Losing a pregnancy can be a devastating event, from which many never truly recover. To make matters worse, many Australian women suffering the emotional and physical trauma of miscarriage are not entitled to even a day of paid leave.
Approximately 98% of pregnancy loss occurs in the first twelve weeks. Yet, Under the Fair Work Act, a stillborn child is one that weighs at least 400 grams at delivery or whose period of gestation was at least 20 weeks. This means that some employees fall through the gaps of the legislation and receive little recognition from their employers in respect to their loss and its impact on their ability to continue work.
One support group, Pink Elephants, is calling for federal recognition of first-trimester miscarriage in the Fair Work Act. Pink Elephants recommends that a period of two paid days of leave for ‘bereavement’ be legislated in instances of early pregnancy loss. This kind of statutory reform would allow at least some period of recovery for both the physical condition of the mother and the psychological state of the couple.
Encouragingly, Australia is one of four countries worldwide that provides an equivalent duration of parental leave for same-sex couples of both genders. Perhaps in the future, there will also be statutory recognition of the impact that early pregnancy loss has on one’s ability to work.
If you would like to discuss anything further with our experts at Freedman & Gopalan Solicitors, call us on 02 8917 8700.