Families dealing with the trauma of stillbirths, infant deaths and premature births will now have access to improved unpaid parental leave entitlements after legislation introduced by the Morrison Government passed through Parliament today.
The Fair Work Amendment (Improving Unpaid Parental Leave for Parents of Stillborn Babies and Other Measures) Bill 2020, provides certainty to parents whose baby is stillborn by guaranteeing an entitlement to 12-months of unpaid parental leave.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said the change gives those parents access to the same amount of unpaid leave that parents of healthy babies can choose to take.
“This will give parents the time and space they need to grieve the loss of their baby, without having to worry about returning to work before they are ready to do so,” the Attorney-General said.
“Reducing the rate of stillbirth in Australia, providing clear and consistent minimum standards in relation to leave entitlements and improving support for families are high priorities for this Government, which is committed to the National Stillbirth Action and Implementation Plan.”
For parents of premature babies, or newborns that experience birth-related complications that result in immediate hospitalisation, the Government has also removed a barrier that prevented them from going back to work while their child remained in hospital, and then restarting their unpaid parental leave when their baby came home.
Additionally, parents will now be allowed to use up to 30 days of their existing entitlement to 12 months unpaid parental leave on a flexible basis (in days or weeks) any time up to two years after the birth or adoption of a child.
The legislation complements recent changes to the Stillborn Baby Payment, due to start on 1 January 2021, which provides improved support to families dealing with the personal, social and financial impacts after the loss of a child.