Any woman—or spouse—who has dealt with the immense pain of miscarriage or stillbirth knows the devastating impacts of returning to work "as normal", often being forced to dip into sick and unpaid leave to grapple with the devastating impacts of losing a child.
The NSW government is hoping to ease the pain of mothers and couples dealing with loss, introducing a new measure that will allow public sector workers who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth up to a week of bereavement leave, while mothers who give birth prematurely will receive special paid time off, reports The Australian, which was included as part of the state's budget announcement on June 22.
The new guidelines include any employees—whether full-time, part-time, permanent, or temporary work—who will be entitled to five days paid leave "where an employee or their spouse's pregnancy ceases by way of miscarriage up to 20 weeks gestation."
Further leave for parents who have premature babies was also announced, with Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor saying in a statement, via 7News: “A new arrival is always a cause for celebration but sometimes an early entry can have unexpected consequences. This leave for mothers who give birth to a pre-term baby, and their partners, will be available from the date of the early birth up to when the birth normally would have been expected.”
Treasurer Dominic Perrottet shared the NSW government, the first state to introduce such leave, needed to lead the way for reform in this area, with the proposed changes coming into effect on July 1, 2021.
"We know that losing a child even in the early stages of pregnancy can be devastating," Perrottet said, via SBS News. "We want NSW government employees to know the government has their back when tragedies like these occur, and that they will have time to process their loss without having to worry about financial or work-related pressures."
The NSW government's leave entitlements follow other countries implementing parental leave guidelines to ease the impacts of miscarriage and stillbirth, with New Zealand introducing three days of paid bereavement leave earlier this year, where they became one of the first countries to do so.
“I can only hope that while we may be one of the first, we will not be one of the last and that other countries will also begin to legislate for a compassionate and fair leave system that recognizes the pain and the grief that comes from miscarriage and stillbirth,” New Zealand MP Ginny Anderson said in March.