Corporate Recognition of Stillbirth
As part of our mission of advocacy for bereaved parents we strive to improve the support and understanding received by parents after such a profound loss.
Based on the findings of our 2016 study with PWC The Economic Impacts of Stillbirth in Australia, we believe it is imperative that parents are afforded the same consideration under paid parental leave as those parents who are fortunate enough to bring their babies home.
We’re calling on all businesses to review their current paid parental leave policies and formalise stillbirth into paid parental leave, to remove any ambiguity from an already challenging situation .
With stillbirth occurring at a rate of 6 babies per day, this is a consideration that companies unfortunately can’t afford to ignore. Given that paid parental leave is already budgeted for, including stillparents under this policy is an important step to acknowledge the loss, allow employees to recover from pregnancy and labour and to grieve such an unexpected loss.
You’ll find more information here, including media coverage, about the benefits to both businesses and employees as well as how you might raise the issue within your own workplace.
We are also proud to be compiling a register of corporations who are setting the standard in supporting stillbirth within their Paid Parental Leave arrangements.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are companies being asked to do?
We are asking Australian business leaders to ensure that parents are covered by paid parental leave in the event that they give birth to a stillborn baby.
Do companies provide any leave after stillbirth currently?
Some companies do. Some may have never contemplated it. Many companies paid parental leave policies are silent on the subject of stillbirth. What we know from talking to parents of a stillborn baby is that often it comes down to a manager making a discretionary decision to grant parental leave.
Does government funded PPL provide for leave after Stillbirth?
Yes, it does. The Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 is quite specific that a person is eligible for the government funded PPL if that person would have been the primary carer of the stillborn child. Section 31(3) is the relevant section of the Act.
Isn’t paid parental leave to care for a baby. Is this the right kind of leave for a stillbirth, when there is no baby?
Parental leave is called parental leave. It isn’t called baby leave. It is parental leave because it is about the employee’s role as a parent. Parents of stillborn babies don’t have a baby to care for – that is true. Tragically, their child has died before it drew breath. But they are still parents. They go through all the physical and emotional demands of giving birth. Mothers need to recover from labor and delivery, for example. Parents of stillborn babies still have to look after their children: they need to organise autopsies, attend to funerals or memorials, make decisions about burial or cremation, advise family and friends. They also need to grieve their child.
Why is it important to explicitly state that parental leave is available after Stillbirth?
- It removes additional financial pressure from the family during an already traumatic period for them as they would have anticipated having paid leave had it been a live birth.
- Accessing paid parental leave recognises the birth of a child and the role of the parents.
- It allows time for the female employee to physically and emotionally recover from the experience of birth.
- A company would (or at least should) have already factored in the cost of parental leave for a live birth, so it does not effectively add to the company’s costs.
- The employee would not be fully effective if she had to return to work for financial reasons quickly after stillbirth. A Stillbirth Foundation / PwC study into the economic cost of stillbirth indicates that employee productivity after a stillbirth is only at 26% after 30 days.
- It is simply the right thing to do.
How frequently does Stillbirth happen in Australia?
Stillbirth is quite common. Six babies a day in Australia are stillborn. That’s 1 in 135 births. Chances are, we all know someone who has been touched by stillbirth.
In 30% of cases there will be no identifiable cause for the baby’s death.
The other sad reality is that the rate of stillbirth is relatively unchanged for decades. We urgently need more research to help reduce this tragedy, much in the way research led to the “Back to Sleep” campaign that reduced Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, by over 80%.
Are we risking getting too many kinds of leave? Why add another leave entitlement?
We are not asking for a different kind of leave. What we are doing is asking companies to recognise that parents of stillborn babies are parents, and as such, that they are covered by paid parental leave.
If companies or employees want more information, advice or to join the campaign, what can they do?
Please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org