The Australian government released their Report on Stillbirth Research and Education last month. I mentioned it in my November post. It is 187 pages long, with research summaries, testimonies, and 16 recommendations. The goal? To both reduce the number of stillbirths in that country and improve care to women and their families when they experience a stillbirth. You can read the full report, but in this post, I wanted to just talk about one recommendation, the first one:
3.75 The committee recommends that the Australian government reviews and amends the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and provisions relating to stillbirth in the National Employment Standards (NES) to ensure that:
- provisions for stillbirth and miscarriage are clear and consistent across all employers, and meet international best practice such as those contained in the Ausgrid Enterprise Agreement; and
- legislative entitlements to paid parental leave are unambiguous in recognizing and providing support for employees who have experienced stillbirth.
I’ve added the links to the documents they’re referring to here, but let’s make this clear in plain language. The Senate recommends employers in Australia should be required to provide paid leave for parents who experience stillbirth.
The example they use is the employment agreement at Ausgrid Enterprise, which is the electricity company in Sydney. Their agreement says that for second-trimester losses, mothers should have six weeks of paid special parental leave. For third trimester losses, mothers should have sixteen weeks paid parental leave.
In Canada, Conservative MP Blake Richards has proposed a similar motion, which is currently being examined by the Human Resources Committee. Motion 110 would be for parents who have lost an infant child and would be 12 weeks, not 16. It also would be paid for through the existing Employment Insurance Act. However, given the similarities in our parliamentary systems, the Australian example is worth pursuing.
Having a significant paid time away from work to deal with pressing family issues, whether that is the birth or the death of a child, is smart economic sense. Our economy is stronger with full employment. Paying people to take time off work in the short-term means that in the long run, they are more likely to return to full paid employment at full productivity. Having a length of time that is significant to cope with grief, to deal with the planning of funerals or care of estates, to rebuild your relationships with your spouse and extended family after a devastating loss, means you are better able to focus on your work tasks when you return.
No one is suggesting that grief ends after six weeks, or twelve weeks, or sixteen weeks. But this paid leave means that in a time of devastating loss, you have one less thing to worry about.
If you’re in Australia, be sure to read the Senate Report. Let your politicians know you want the recommendations implemented. If you’re in Canada, you can sign the petition and let your MP know you support Motion 110.
Is your country taking action on Stillbirth Research and/or Prevention? I’d love to hear about initiatives where you are!
Image credit: By Alberto Alerigi on flickr.com Used under Creative Commons License.