The Campaign for Bereavement Leave Following Early Pregnancy Loss
Early pregnancy loss is often described as disenfranchised. With this campaign we are aiming to validate early pregnancy loss as bereavement.
Currently FairWork Australia doesn’t recognise a loss prior to 20 weeks, with no provision in place despite the fact that 98% of losses occur prior to 12 weeks. That translates as approximately 103,000 couples each year not receiving validation that their loss matters.
In October this year we had the privilege of speaking directly with Attorney General Christian Porter to continue to drive the changes needed to the Fair Work Act to allow access to this important leave.
Mr Julian Simmonds MP and his wife have experienced their own heartbreaking loss, and they are advocating with us to allow access to bereavement leave for Miscarriage and Early Pregnancy Loss. Julian's speech can be viewed here.
We continue to advocate for policy change through our Fertility in the Workplace program to ensure miscarriage is incorporated as part of an organisation’s bereavement/compassionate leave policy. Organisations such as Minter Ellison, PWC and TabCorp are leading the way by ensuring any of their people who are experiencing early pregnancy loss will have access to bereavement/compassionate leave.
Our Leave for Loss campaign is gaining momentum, but there is more work to be done. If you'd like to support this campaign you can donate here.
As an organisation we want to support our people particularly when times are at their hardest. Clear policy provisioning for pregnancy loss bereavement leave provides that care for our people at what is a traumatic and emotional time. It means there isn’t an uncomfortable conversation about leave eligibility and with the support of Pink Elephants, we can offer further resources to help."
People & Culture Leader, TabCorp
Our CEO Samantha Payne identified that in the majority of cases, women are taking sick leave after a miscarriage. Not only does this serve to invalidate the loss as real bereavement to society, it also feeds into the myth that miscarriage doesn’t matter. In addition, sick leave has an annual limit, causing many women to return to work before they are physically and mentally ready because they have no sick leave left.
We began to research via our online communities and we were alarmed to discover just how many women were being forced to use sick leave or even worse, having to return to work the same day as they’ve undergone a D&C"
Access to paid bereavement leave after a miscarriage will offer couples the leave they deserve and need in order to feel validated in their grief. It will also provide them with the time and space to access emotional support from an organisation such as ours.
Katrina Groshinski, senior partner at Minter Ellison says, “It is important that employees have a clear right to access compassionate leave if they or their partners suffer a miscarriage.”
“I returned to work the day after my D&C, still bleeding and cramping heavily. I’d used up all my sick leave for fertility treatments”.
“I sat at my desk bleeding, losing my baby too terrified to take leave”.
“I returned two days post my D&C. I was anxious, overwhelmed and scared I’d be a blubbering mess and unable to keep focus. I was in pain and Panadol was doing nothing. In the end, I chose me. I told my boss I was going home and by the time I reached my car I couldn’t even breathe through my tears."
We are incredibly proud of this initiative which with your support can revolutionise the support that Australian women and their partners receive after experiencing the heartache of early pregnancy loss.
Research Reference Papers:
- Porschitz and Siler 2017 Miscarriage in the workplace
- Hazen 2003 societal and workplace responses to perinatal grief
- Hazen 2006 silence in workplaces about pregnancy loss