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 12 weeks, with no provision in place despite the fact that 98% of losses occur prior to 12 weeks. That translates as approximately 100,000 couples each year not receiving validation that their loss matters.

Through our Fertility in the Workplace program, we have been advocating for policy change to ensure miscarriage is incorporated as part of an organisation’s bereavement/compassionate leave policy. Organisations such as Minter Ellison 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.

Kelly, People & Culture Leader from TabCorp says, “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.”

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.” Sam Payne, CEO

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."

In July this year, we submitted our case for Leave for Loss to the Attorney General Christian Porter’s office and since then, we have engaged several external stakeholders to support our cause. 

We are incredibly proud of this initiative and the potential it has to revolutionise the support that Australian women and their partners receive after experiencing the heartache of early pregnancy loss.