Quantifying the impacts of stillbirth
Stillbirth has far-reaching impacts on individuals, families,
communities and Australian society. However, the economic and social costs of
stillbirth are not widely recognised, and there has been limited attention to
quantifying these costs in the Australian context.
International researchers found that the direct financial cost of care
associated with a stillbirth was 10−70
per cent greater than the cost of care for a live birth, and that the costs
were predominantly met by government.
Research conducted in the United States indicated that women whose
babies were stillborn, particularly where the cause was unknown, had
significantly higher hospital costs during labour and birth than women with
live births, while in England and Wales there were increased costs for
subsequent births as a result of more intensive surveillance of the pregnancy.
More detailed research is required to guide national policymaking,
funding decisions and future corporate investment, as well as to better target
stillbirth research and education programs.
According to the Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth (Stillbirth CRE):
The economic impact of stillbirth is significant and far
reaching and extends further than just the direct costs to the healthcare
sector. One important area in which major employer groups might see benefit
from targeted stillbirth research is in the impact of pregnancy loss on women
and their families in terms of time off work, altered work performance, and
other employment-related impacts. Improving bereavement care and recovery after
stillbirth has potential beneficial spin-offs for employers and the broader
economy, and this could encourage investment from the corporate sector.
Direct and indirect costs
A study prepared by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for Stillbirth
Foundation Australia estimated the total projected direct and indirect costs of
stillbirth to the Australian economy to be $681.4 million for the five-year
period from 2016 to 2020.
The study analysed projected direct and indirect costs of stillbirth in
Australia for the period 2016 to 2020 across 13 categories, as shown in Table 3.1
Table 3.1: Cost of stillbirth in
Australia for the five-year period 2016−20,
in 2016 present value terms
The PwC study projected that, if the 2016 stillbirth rate of 7.4 per
1000 births remained unchanged, and assuming an increase in the Australian
population and number of births in this five-year period, the number of
stillbirths would increase from approximately 2500 stillbirths in 2016 to 2700
stillbirths in 2020.
In addition to the above projection, the study calculated the cost of
lost future productivity of the stillborn child in 2016 as $7.5 billion in 2016.
PwC acknowledged that these costs were more difficult to quantify, but noted
that they 'have serious impacts on people and society' and are no less
important than the readily quantifiable costs included in the study.
Stillbirth CRE noted that preliminary efforts to quantify stillbirth costs
suggest that direct hospitalisation costs associated with the time of birth is
$9630 for women who had a stillbirth and $6690 (30 per cent lower) for women
who did not. This calculation did not take into account the ongoing costs of
support, bereavement care and counselling, or the difficulty in returning to
Other research projects are underway that focus on identifying and
quantifying the costs of stillbirth to the nation, including a collaborative
research project between the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and
Medicine at James Cook University and the Stillbirth CRE.
The Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) also noted that there are
significant costs to the community as a result of poor fetal health, even when
a baby is born alive, and advocated that researchers should not solely focus on
stillbirth, but also consider the ongoing risk of babies being born with
When the baby does not grow well in utero, the ongoing impact
likelihood of doing well in school and securing a good job is reduced, the
likelihood of a decreased life expectancy and developing of heart disease,
diabetes and kidney failure is increased, particularly in vulnerable
populations. The resulting impact to Australia’s economic and social wellbeing
One witness advocated that a longitudinal study on the social and
economic impacts of pregnancy loss be undertaken by the National Centre for
Longitudinal Data (NCLD).
The NCLD, funded by the Australian Department of Health, is a national
population study examining the health of over 57 000 Australian women. The
study includes data on the number who have experienced a miscarriage or
stillbirth. However, it does not gather information about how experiencing
stillbirth affects the woman's future health. Professor Gita Mishra, Director,
Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health, noted that this is an area
that demands further research in order to identify women at risk of future
I think that's so important—apart from her mental health. It
could be an underlying condition that puts her at risk of maybe future
cardiovascular diseases, as we've seen with other conditions. So, I think it's
a big program that we really need to understand. If there are risk prediction
models with accurate prevalence data, we can tell women what they're getting
into and how we can avoid that situation for them. But, also, then what happens
to her health and wellbeing in the future?
Impact on families
Evidence presented to this inquiry clearly showed the significant
financial impact that a stillbirth has on individual families. Some of the
unexpected costs included:
- costs associated with the autopsy process including transporting
the baby to the autopsy, travel and accommodation for the parents, and the cost
of the autopsy itself;
costs associated with a funeral, cemetery site and gravestone;
the cost of grief counselling;
extended periods of unpaid leave or part-time work;
costs associated with an inability to return to work; and
the cost of additional medical care associated with subsequent
The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) reported that
costs of autopsies vary depending on complexity, and provided an example of one
major public service charging $2500 per autopsy.
The Victorian Perinatal Autopsy Service reviewed the cost of a perinatal
post-mortem examination in 2016, and found that the cost depended on the
complexity of the examination, as follows:
- full post-mortem examination: $1976−$2673;
limited post-mortem examination: $1279−$1859; and
external post-mortem examination: $654−$866.
Dr Diane Payton, Chair, Paediatric Advisory Committee, RCPA, pointed out
that most autopsies are conducted on a voluntary basis due to the lack of
This leads to virtually all of them being done in public
hospitals, which for me is a good thing. But it also does mean that in a
department, where the director is really looking after his budget and there is
no funding for the perinatal autopsy, it really does get pushed to the bottom
of the pile. Here is a departmental director who's looking at one of his
pathologists maybe spending a whole day, when you add up the performance of the
autopsy and the reporting, for which they could have been reporting 60 small
biopsies, and they would have had money coming in, or medical benefits accrued—the
sort of funding they count on their books—whereas for the autopsy there is
Medicare and other healthcare benefits
Whilst Medicare benefits are available for standard medical care costs,
there are a number of services for which benefits are not available. For
example, pathology services performed on stillborn babies do not quality for payment
under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
Professor Hamish S Scott and Associate Professor Christopher Barnett
noted that current MBS funding for perinatal autopsy only provides for anatomic
analysis, and not genetic analysis. They argued that MBS funding processes need
to become more flexible in order to deal with such rapid advances in medical
research and technology, and estimated that MBS funding of $4000 per autopsy
would provide an answer for up to 50 per cent of cases involving stillbirth or
congenital abnormalities leading to death.
The Parental Leave Act of 2010 (Cth) provides that a person is
eligible for Paid Parental Leave or Dad and Partner Pay where the child is
stillborn or dies. The welfare payment is linked to an entitlement to unpaid
Parents of a stillborn child may also be able to access Centrelink
benefits through the Stillborn Baby Payment, although there are time limits on
applying and eligibility criteria in the form of income and/or work tests.
Insurance policies may also have limitations in relation to health care
claims resulting from stillbirth. One submitter discovered that her insurance
policy excluded certain depressive and anxiety disorders, meaning that she was
ineligible to make a claim as a result of seeking psychological support
Families in rural and remote
As noted in Chapter 2, the closure of small maternity units in rural and
remote communities across Australia has had an impact on maternity health
outcomes for pregnant women living in those communities, including additional financial
impacts as a result of having to travel long distances to receive maternity
care, and a higher risk of stillbirth because women may be less likely to leave
their community to seek antenatal care until late in their pregnancy.
The intangible costs of stillbirth are more difficult to quantify, and as
such have tended to receive less attention from policymakers. However, it is
clear from research that they play a major role in families' circumstances and
have a rippling effect across communities.
Stillbirth exacts an enormous psychological and social toll
on mothers, fathers, families and society. It is estimated that 60−70% of affected
women will experience grief-related depressive symptoms at clinically
significant levels one year after their baby's death. These symptoms will
endure for at least four years after the loss in about half of those women.
Researchers have noted that intangible costs contribute to the
longer-term economic burden of stillbirth as a result of the higher level of
anxiety and depression in families experiencing stillbirth compared to other
The PwC study analysed five intangible costs associated with stillbirth
in Australia: the impact on mental well-being; relationship with partner;
relationship with others (family and extended family); other children; and the
effect of financial loss. It found that stillbirth had a profound psychological
impact on parents.
Many suffer from grief and anxiety, the effects often lasting
long periods of time. Experiencing a stillbirth caused stress and anxiety in
subsequent pregnancies and some parents received counselling to deal with this
increased level of stress. Stillbirth put considerable strain on marital or
partner relationships. Different grieving patterns between men and women,
blame, anger and resentment were often cited. Some couples separated after the
Other flow-on effects for families may include increased fear and
anxiety amongst other children, and social isolation.
These psychological effects may adversely impact on their daily health, functioning,
relationships and employment.
Costs can no doubt be attributed to each of the above issues
by economists, but how do you quantify the impact of a stillborn baby on its
family? Without wanting to be overly dramatic, Joshua’s death traumatised me in
ways I cannot always describe, and impacted on the mothering of my other two
children. I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years after Joshua’s birth,
and although there is no evidence, I strongly believe the grief I experienced
after Joshua, and the stress of my subsequent pregnancies played a role in
this. I was 36 at the time of diagnosis.
In addition to the emotional grief and trauma of stillbirth, bereaved
families are often faced with longer-term financial burdens that extend well
beyond 12 months after the loss.
...I keep needing to see new specialists for things that we're
still trying to find answers for. Now I'm struggling with infertility, so I'm
going through IVF, which is partially Medicare rebated. Counselling is another
thing that I've utilised. It has been very helpful to have access to the mental
healthcare plan, but I don't think it's enough to subsidise 10 sessions a year
for something that's as profound and ongoing as this.
My husband and I were both self-employed. I was an IT
consultant, and my husband has an electrical contracting business. He couldn't
take time off. His staff tried to keep things going, but we had no such thing
as paid leave, and ultimately we moved out of Sydney, partly for economics.
That was an economic outcome of the death. I completely change[d] careers as a
result. We went from a staff of five electricians down to just my husband.
It’s fair to say that my productivity was severely impacted
by my loss experience. I struggled to concentrate, and I found it difficult to
re-discover purpose in my work. I found group situations challenging, including
leading meetings and presenting to groups. I had lost all confidence. This was
my experience, despite my having accessed extensive bereavement counselling
through (then) SIDS and Kids—both
individual and support groups, and actively working hard to rediscover hope and
happiness after loss.
...I now find myself mentally unprepared to re-join the
workforce in the immediate future due to a lack of drive and mental capacity to
be able to fulfil work obligations. Re-joining the workforce too soon may
result [in] a phenomenon known as presenteeism, where an employee is physically
present, but mentally absent. Further, the prolonged period of remaining at
home without an active income will eventuate in financial burden, and
potentially a strain on the relationships within the household.
Impact on healthcare providers
The College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University noted
that some of the direct and indirect costs of stillbirth are borne directly by
healthcare providers. These include increased medical and health care costs,
costs associated with subsequent pregnancies which would be regarded as
high-risk, and costs associated with stillbirth investigations and reporting.
As one bereaved parent explained:
Extended leave from the workforce, and impacted productivity
are not the only impacts with respect to quantifying the impact of stillbirth
on the Australian economy. It is important to also take account of the impact
on the public health system of subsequent pregnancy care...This increased level
of specialist care by an esteemed, senior medical professional, certainly came
at a cost to the public health system. With this replicated more than 2000
times every single year, it is clear to see that we have an unacceptable and
unsustainable situation on our hands.
The economic impact of stillbirth also extends to clinicians and other
health professionals who care for those experiencing stillbirth, although this
impact is not accounted for when quantifying the costs of stillbirth. As Ms
Victoria Bowring, Chief Executive Officer, Stillbirth Foundation Australia, explained:
Obstetricians, midwives and the nursing staff all feel this
loss at the same time, and that wasn't taken into account. I'm sure there would
be many workers who find it difficult to return to their jobs, having sat
beside a family who've gone through this and held their hand and then had to go
home and deal with that themselves. So, whilst we have this figure, it is much
broader than it seems.
The 2018 Victorian parliamentary inquiry into perinatal services also
heard evidence that short staffing combined with overtime and double shifts had
led to workplace stresses for midwives, leading to increased sick leave,
reduction in working hours, or even leaving the workforce.
Professor Craig Pennell, Senior Researcher, HMRI noted that, whilst
considerable effort goes into training so that staff can deal with the
emotional stress surrounding stillbirth, it takes a particular type of person
to do so repeatedly. He noted that:
...there are staff who are involved, especially in the unexpected
cases or cases that happen in labour, who would not attend work for a week or
weeks. I know of staff who have left the profession because of stillbirths that
were particularly unexpected, or where the management of those cases wasn't
good, or where there was blame or the junior staff were blamed. But every case
is, obviously, different.
The loss of skilled staff as a result of these pressures is therefore a
significant issue that needs to be factored into the calculation of the economic
impacts of stillbirth on hospitals and the healthcare system.
Stillbirth has a significant economic impact on employees, employers,
and the labour force more generally. Bereaved parents may withdraw from normal
social activities, including labour force participation, in the aftermath of
stillbirth, with life-long implications for the economic status of women and
Stillbirth CRE estimated that the annual cost of one mother missing from
the labour force as a result of stillbirth was $33 000 in Gross Domestic
PwC concluded that, even in cases where a bereaved mother has to return
to work for financial reasons following a stillbirth, her productivity is
estimated to be 26 per cent of her normal rate after 30 days.
Leave following stillbirth
A key issue raised by witness and submitters in relation to employment
matters concerned leave entitlements for parents who experienced a stillbirth.
According to the International Labour Organisation, compulsory leave of
six weeks should be provided to all women in the event of a stillborn child, as
a health-related measure. However, only 12 of 170 countries with maternity
benefit policies include any specific provision for stillbirth-related leave,
while others have leave provisions that protect parents from discrimination
based on maternity.
National Employment Standards
In Australia, the National Employment Standards (NES) of the Fair
Work Act 2009 (Cth) provide for minimum leave entitlements for all employees
in the national workplace relations system. Other leave entitlements available
under an award, registered agreement or contract of employment cannot be less than
those contained in the NES.
Parental leave under the NES of the Fair Work Act is unpaid leave,
although many employees are entitled to various degrees of paid parental leave
under various industrial instruments, including enterprise agreements and some
awards. These employees keep this paid entitlement as it is a benefit in excess
of the NES entitlement.
The Fair Work Act provides for two days' compassionate or bereavement
leave 'each time an immediate family or household member dies'.
The Fair Work Act provides for special maternity leave for a
pregnant employee who is eligible for unpaid parental leave, where 'the
pregnancy within 28 weeks of the expected date of birth of the child otherwise
than by the birth of a living child'. If an employee takes leave because of a
stillbirth, the leave can continue until she is fit for work.
An eligible pregnant employee can reduce or cancel their period of
unpaid birth-related parental leave if their pregnancy ends due to their child
being stillborn, or if their child dies after birth.
State and territory parental leave provisions apply only to those
employees not covered by the parental leave component of the NES (that is,
employees who are award/agreement free). The majority of state and territory
laws are generally consistent with the provisions provided for in the Fair Work
Act. Only New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and
Tasmania have applicable laws, while the ACT, Northern Territory and Victoria
are essentially governed by the Fair Work Act alone (with some exceptions
regarding public service).
Parental Leave Pay
The Australian government's Paid Parental Leave Scheme, introduced on 1 January
2011, provides access to 18 weeks of parental leave pay for eligible working
parents when they take time off from work to care for a newborn or recently
adopted child. It is fully government-funded. Parental leave pay is not a leave
entitlement, but a payment made to an eligible employee while that employee is
Parents of a stillborn child are eligible for parental leave pay,
although the same income caps and activity tests apply as for paid parental leave
which effectively excludes many employees.
Inconsistent leave provisions
The Community and Public Sector Union New South Wales (CPSU NSW) noted
that the Fair Work Act appears to contradict the federal allowance provided
under the Paid Parental Leave Scheme. Section 77A, for example, states that
'Pregnancy ends (other than by birth of a living child)', which appears to
allow the employer to cancel unpaid leave in the instance of a stillbirth and
require the worker to return to work. In other words the entitlement is
Mr Troy Wright, Branch Assistant Secretary, CPSU NSW, pointed out that
the relevant provisions of the Fair Work Act (sections 77A and 80) are
inadequate because they discriminate between mothers whose children are born
full-term and mothers whose children are not.
Mothers who give birth to a child are recipients of the
government's Paid Parental Leave scheme, whereas mothers experiencing a
stillbirth or miscarriage are reliant upon unpaid parental leave [and] requires
a series of medical certificates in the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth...somehow
the issue of stillbirth and miscarriage is still treated as a medical issue
industrially and is still reliant on medical certificates.
The CPSU NSW recommended that section 80 of the Fair Work Act be amended:
...to reduce the threshold from 12 weeks pregnancy and also to
ensure that workers are paid special maternity leave at a rate equal to their
pre miscarriage level regardless of the employment status of the worker.
Inadequate leave provisions
Even where bereavement or other types of paid leave were available to
them, some bereaved parents found that the period of leave was not sufficient
and were forced to take additional unpaid leave.
Tim and Leanne Smith explained that it took time to deal with the grief and
trauma of a stillbirth:
I was not a functioning member of society or the workforce
for at least 6 months. I believe that people need to be given sufficient time
away from the workforce in the first instance to deal with the emotional and
Mrs Jackie Barreau agreed, arguing that the two days'
compassionate/bereavement leave provided under the Fair Work Act is not enough
to manage the emotional, physical and mental impact of losing a child and planning
for a funeral. She recommended that this leave should be extended to five days,
and that flexible workplace arrangements in both public and private sectors
should extend to stillbirth to allow for the bereavement of a family member.
Mrs Clare Rannard testified that, whilst she was able to access a
combination of workplace maternity leave, paid parental leave and unpaid leave,
she found it difficult to work in a full-time capacity following her daughter's
stillbirth, with implications for her employment security.
Ms Lisa Martin found that she was ineligible for parental leave because
of strict provisions regarding the classification of 'stillborn'.
My son Carter Jake Martin was born at 19 weeks 6 days and 2 &
half hours just making him a few hours shy of a classified stillborn, therefore
not entitled to recognition of a birth or parental leave. Not only did I endure
the birth I faced the cold hard reality of what was to come after that which
was the effect on our family, my sons and friends, the impact on my job and the
financial position we were in which may see us lose our home.
The committee heard evidence about the difficulties and inconsistencies
experienced by employees when seeking access to leave following a stillbirth,
highlighting that employers may lack awareness of the trauma associated with
stillbirth and exercise considerable discretion and control over access to
parental leave entitlements.
Nick and Elena Xerakias noted that, while Ms Xerakias was not able to
work full-time and could not commit to a full-time position, Mr Xerakias's
employer and colleagues were supportive and, upon his return to work, he was
provided with flexibility in his work hours.
Ms Naomi Herron was advised by her employer that she had been made
redundant whilst on leave and that she would not receive a payout. She stated
that she worked in a male-dominated industry and her employers seemed to be
unaware of their responsibility to their employees.
Sands Australia noted that '[s]tillbirth does not satisfy
Centrelink/government maternity leave requirements and this is often the case
for employer maternity leave entitlements'.
Access to maternity leave may be granted at the discretion of the employer. One
submitter stated that her employer had honoured their maternity leave policy
'even though I had no baby', and this had enabled her to work through her grief
and not worry about losing her home.
Australian Public Service (APS) employees may be able to access accrued
personal leave and paid maternity leave, but parental leave policies in the
private sector are inconsistent and ambiguous.
Mr Andrew McBride stated that he and his wife were both in the APS at
the time of their stillbirth, and were able to access paid personal and
maternity leave. However, he recalls meeting a newly-grieving mother who had to
return to work because she had no leave and could not afford to take time off
and, when he was later employed in the private sector, he observed that
corporate parental leave policies were often ambiguous as to whether parents of
stillborn babies were entitled to paid parental leave, because they tended to
mirror the provisions contained in the Fair Work Act.
Since then, he has been working with corporate leaders to ensure recognition
of stillbirth in paid parental leave policies becomes the norm, and that
parents of stillborn children are afforded the same rights as other parents.
Our ask of companies has been straightforward: a commitment
to review company parental leave policies to ensure that employer funded paid
parental leave is available in the circumstance of stillbirth.
Mr McBride recommended that the provisions for paid parental leave needed
to be clarified in order to encourage private employers to ensure that
employees who experience stillbirth have access to such leave.
I do not believe that the ambiguity in existing company
parental leave policies was through ill-intent but simply neglect—companies have tended to
take the mandated legislative provisions in the Fair Work Act of 2009 (that
focus on unpaid parental leave) and overlay their own paid parental leave
policies, which tend to be cast around the care-giving aspect of parental leave
and just don't consider the circumstance of stillbirth. Consequently, clauses
from the Fair Work Act, such as Section 80 on “Unpaid special maternity”, are
confusingly included in policies that are addressing paid parental leave.
Annette Kacela and Christopher Lobo reported that, whilst they had
access to some paid leave, their respective experiences of returning to work
were starkly contrasting.
Following the stillbirth of our son Thomas, neither
Christopher nor I were capable of immediately returning to work due to the
sheer devastation, grief and crippling mental effects. We have since returned
to our respective employers to different departments. Christopher’s employer
granted him paid leave for 2 months who was exceptionally supportive of the
circumstances and even contacted him on multiple occasions to ensure his and
our family’s wellbeing. My employer dealt with Thomas’s passing in stark
contrast, I was on leave for four months where I was required to use all of my
personal and annual leave entitlements which I had been accumulating in
preparation for Thomas live birth, the remainder of the time was un-paid...The
non-supportive work culture demonstrated by my employer compounded the
situation we were already in. I was also requested to complete my ‘on-call’
shifts over the Christmas period that I had to decline, this gesture clearly
demonstrated the lack of awareness stillbirth has across various domains including
the healthcare industry.
Best practice employment models
The Centre for Midwifery, Child and Family Health advocated a review of
employment laws across Australian jurisdictions, using a 'stillbirth lens' to
ensure that bereaved parents are protected and supported in legislation.
Stillbirth CRE recommended the following benefits to reduce the
financial burden on parents of stillbirth:
- minimum paid period of time off work;
respite child care if there are other children or care
Medicare reimbursement for psychiatric or psychological referral;
equity of parental leave support post stillbirth for both mothers
One submitter noted that 'parents of babies who die are subjected to a
lot of misinformation on their rights and responsibilities in the workplace',
and recommended that the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman develop a best
practice guide for employees and employers, and a national stillbirth in the
workplace campaign to assist employers and employees to navigate the return to
work after a stillbirth.
In 2017 Stillbirth Foundation Australia called on private employers to
review their parental policies to ensure that their company extended paid
parental leave in the case of stillbirth. The Foundation listed the economic
and social benefits including removing financial pressure from the bereaved
family, recognising the birth of a child and allowing time for bereaved mothers
to recover from the birth.
The committee identified two examples of best practice currently
operating in Australia that contain specific provisions for employees who have
Australian Public Service
The Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973 (Cth) covers
APS employees and ensures that mothers of stillborn children are entitled to
the same maternity leave as mothers of children born live.
The Act provides for a maximum period of absence of 52 weeks. Under the
Act, a person is required to commence maternity leave six weeks before the
expected birth of the child. Where the child is born earlier than six weeks
before the expected date of birth, the required absence commences on the date
of birth and continues for six weeks. In this case, the 52 week period of
maternity leave absence commences from the date of birth.
Eligible employees may access the Paid Parental Leave Scheme (PPL
Scheme) or Dad and Partner Pay (DAPP) in addition to entitlements to paid and
unpaid leave provided under individual agency Enterprise Agreements.
Ausgrid Enterprise Agreement
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers and the CPSU NSW advocated that the provisions
for stillbirth and miscarriage in the Ausgrid Enterprise Agreement, as negotiated
with the Electrical Trades Union, represented best practice and should be
included in the NES. Section 30.8 of the Ausgrid Enterprise Agreement reads as
30.8 Cessation of pregnancy - stillbirth and miscarriage
30.8.1 Where the pregnancy ceases by way of miscarriage
between 12 and 20 weeks gestation then subject to providing a medical
(a) the birth parent will be entitled to six weeks paid
special parental leave; and
(b) the non-birth parent will be entitled to compassionate leave
in accordance with Clause 29 of this Agreement.
30.8.2 Where the pregnancy ceases by way of stillbirth after
20 weeks gestation to birth then subject to providing medical certificate:
(a) the birth parent will be eligible for 16 weeks paid
special leave; and
(b) the non-birth parent will be eligible for one week of
paid special leave.
30.8.3 The leave set out above in this Clause 30.8 may be
added to with approved accrued leave including annual leave, personal carer’s
leave and accrued personal leave.
Stillbirth has significant and far reaching economic effects for
Australia that extend well beyond the direct costs to the healthcare sector.
The committee acknowledges that further research and education is required to
understand the full extent of these impacts and to inform public policymaking
and awareness-raising, including:
- the impact on bereaved parents and their families, including
additional financial pressures associated with additional health care, funeral
costs and, for many, extended periods of unpaid leave, part-time employment or
the impact on employers and employees in relation to time off work,
the process of returning to work, and altered work performance;
the impact on society when skilled clinicians and health
professionals leave the workforce as a result of the pressures of dealing with
the potential benefits for employers and the Australian economy
of improving bereavement care and recovery after stillbirth; and
the potential for greater investment in innovative research and
education from the corporate sector if the economic benefits of improved
bereavement care and recovery are more widely recognised.
The committee recognises that providing protection and support for
employees who have experienced stillbirth is a priority across Australia's
jurisdictions. It urges the federal, state and territory governments to review
employment laws and policies with a 'stillbirth lens' and make necessary
changes to ensure that appropriate protection and support provisions are in
The committee acknowledges the success of the Stillbirth Foundation
Australia campaign in urging private employers to formally recognise stillbirth
in their corporate policies by ensuring that their company extends paid
parental leave to employees who have experienced stillbirth. The committee
agrees with the approach proposed by Mr McBride and the CPSU NSW, that the
relevant provisions of the Fair Work Act should be clarified and strengthened
to encourage private employers to review their workplace policies and afford
employees who experience stillbirth the same access to paid parental leave as
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 recognising and providing support for employees who have experienced
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