The 2021-2022 NSW budget includes progressive new changes for women working in the public sector who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth.
One week of paid bereavement leave will be made available to public sector workers who are affected, while mothers who give birth prematurely will be entitled to paid leave until their original due date.
Men affected by their partner’s pregnancy difficulties will also be entitled to the new benefits, even if their partner is not employed in the public sector.
The policies will apply to both full and part-time NSW public service workers with talks ongoing to secure similar benefits for those employed in the private sector.
It is the first time any state or territory has offered leave of this kind and the NSW government hopes it will encourage others to do the same.
Women who miscarry or experience stillbirth will be given five days of paid leave while those who give birth prematurely will be able to access ‘additional premature birth leave’ on top of their existing paid leave. Their paid parental leave will not be affected by these changes which are made in addition.
The government has said that terminations of pregnancy will not be covered by the policy.
“NSW will lead the country with these provisions, and we believe other states and the private sector will follow,” NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told The Australian.
“These are timely and important programs for people during what is one of the most difficult of times.”
Perrottet announced the measures this morning in his fifth budget speech, saying: “Having a miscarriage is not an illness; it is a loss that should be recognised.”
In a statement, Perrottet said that as workplaces continue to evolve, governments need to lead the way in supporting their work staff during tough times.
“We know that losing a child even in the early stages of pregnancy can be devastating, so this year’s Budget is introducing measures to support NSW Government sector employees, allowing them to take five days paid special leave if this occurs,” he said.
Unpaid maternal leave is currently available to public sector workers who suffer a miscarriage, while unpaid parental leave is available for women who experience a stillbirth or lose a child in the first 24 months.
The policy has been approved by the NSW government’s Expenditure Review Committee but is yet to be delivered to cabinet for final approval.
The measure is expected to cost up to $12 million per year, depending on the uptake, and will come into effect on July 1.
New Zealand became the first country in the world to give mothers and their partners paid leave in the event of a stillbirth or miscarriage, however, they only provide three days of leave, unlike NSW’s five days.