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Historic paid leave policy to be introduced in NSW

·3-min read
Parents in the NSW public service will be entitled to paid bereavement leave, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet will say. (Images: Getty).
Parents in the NSW public service will be entitled to paid bereavement leave, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said. (Images: Getty).

Women who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth will be entitled to one week paid bereavement leave under a historic policy introduced in the NSW state budget.

Women who have given birth prematurely will also receive special paid time off under the landmark policy.

The policy, announced on Tuesday, will apply to workers within the NSW public service, however could soon be extended to the private sector.

Male partners in the public service will also be eligible for the benefits, regardless of whether their partners also work in the public sector.

Previously, parents have been required to dip into their sick leave to recover following a stillbirth or miscarriage. Alternatively, they have been required to use unpaid special maternity leave.

“This is not acceptable. Having a miscarriage is not an illness; it is a loss that should be recognised,” Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said on Tuesday.

He said he wanted families 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”.

More than 2,000 babies are stillborn every year in Australia, or around six babies every day. And more than 100,000 women suffer miscarriages in Australia every year.

Women who give birth to premature babies will have access to “additional premature birth leave”, which will mean they don’t need to use their existing paid parental leave until the baby would have reached full term.

"Premature babies need acute care, and that time should not come out of parental leave," Perrottet said. 

The provisions will come into effect on 1 July. 

Terminated pregnancies will not be covered by the paid leave scheme.

The policy is expected to cost $12 million per year, although it will depend on how many workers use the leave.

It comes after the Federal Parliament last year passed laws allowing the parents of stillborn babies, or infants that died within their first two years of life, access to 12 months unpaid parental leave.

That law change means grieving families have access to the same leave as other families. Previously, bereaved families were entitled to six weeks of unpaid leave before they had to go back to work.

New Zealand recently granted three days’ paid leave to parents following a stillbirth or miscarriage, regardless of workplace.

In Australia, Zip Co offers two weeks paid leave for employees suffering miscarriage or pregnancy loss before 20 weeks, while Modibodi offers 10 days a year for menstruation, menopause and miscarriage leave.

Stillbirth Foundation Australia also keeps a registry of Australian businesses that include paid leave provisions for employees affected by stillbirths.

Around 1 million employees across Australia have access to these provisions, according to the registry of 58 businesses.

“Many companies currently address stillbirth on a case-by-case basis,” Foundation CEO Leigh Brezler said.

“Having policies in place that afford equal paid parental leave in the instance of a stillbirth removes undue stress and supports bereaved parents during their time of immense grief and loss.”

  • SANDS: Miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death support - 1300 308 307.

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