By Leigh Johnston
Forced to return to work and grieve in silence, an Australian woman who lost her child at 35 weeks, received an email from her employer saying she was no longer entitled to the 13 weeks paid maternity leave and the 12 months unpaid leave.
She was forced to return to work after six weeks.
Under the current Fair Work Act, the employer was within their right to deny the woman of the parental leave entitlements. It’s at the discretion of a company to offer women paid leave if they have experienced a stillbirth, but advocates are urging the Federal Government to change the legislation.
Campaigners are pushing Federal Government to change legislation for women who’ve experienced stillbirth, allowing them paid leave.
Kate Lynch, CEO of Stillbirth Foundation Australia, says women who have suffered a stillbirth should receive the same entitlement as those who have had a live birth.
“These families are already suffering such traumatic loss that it’s not right they also be hit with a financial loss at this very sad time,” Ms Lynch said.
“They need time to breathe and heal, physically emotionally and mentally.”
In a statement addressing the issue, Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter said he was “carefully considering” all the recommendations of the Senate Committee.
Another woman, Ann-Maree Imrie suffered stillbirth at six-and-a-half months pregnant.
“Like the world had just dropped out from underneath me,” Ms Imrie said.
Ms Imrie said she was looked after, but all women in her position needed the same support.
“At an already extremely difficult time of such immense loss you don’t want to be having to consider financial losses as well,” she said.
“To have that baby recognised by the wider community and your workplace is something that’s really important to bereaved parents.”
The Federal Government says it will develop a national stillbirth action plan, however Senior Employment Adviser from Employsure, Isabella Zamorano says the Fair Work Act should be amended to make it “explicitly clear that stillbirth parents are entitled to the same entitlements of newborn parents.”