It’s 100% ok to take some time off when you experience the loss of your baby.
Following are the national leave entitlements for dads.
For dads who have lost a baby to stillbirth or at any time from birth until their baby is two-years old.
Stillbirths are classified as the death of a baby born at 20 or more weeks gestation, or more than 400 grams birth weight. Six babies are stillborn every day across Australia.
Fathers who experience a stillbirth or infant death are entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave before they may be required to return to work.
For dads who have lost a baby through miscarriage
A miscarriage (ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancies & blighted ovums) is defined as the loss of a pregnancy before 20 weeks gestation. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Some parents find this loss as devastating as that felt by parents whose child lived much longer.
Fathers whose partner experiences a miscarriage can access two days Compassionate Leave https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/compassionate-and-bereavement-leave before they are required to return to work.
This information was prepared for SMS4dads by Red Nose and Parents at Work https://parentsandcarersatwork.com/
Do you want to tell your employer and/or team and if so, how would you like to talk about it?
You get to decide what you tell people and what you don’t. You can also direct those around you about how and when you might want to talk about your loss and also how you want people to refer to your baby. You can find information you can share with your employer so they have an idea what to say here
How much leave do you need and how can you collaborate with your manager/boss to make this workable? What support is available in the workplace to help on the difficult days?
You can talk to your employer about using paternal and other sorts of leave. Some companies now offer leave specifically for stillbirth, miscarriage, premature birth and birth health complications.
No-one can take away the pain and sadness, but knowing that people care, can be comforting and healing.
Richard’s research revealed possible long-term negative impacts on the children of dads with mental health issues. Fathers’ depressive symptoms in the first year after the birth predicted behaviour problems in their children years later.
“If dads’ mental health has such a dramatic impact then we need to be screening dads for depression, not just mums,” Richard explains.
In response to these limitations, Richard and his team have designed a smart-phone based program that allows mobile connection for new and expectant dads.
Participants receive texts containing information and links, and self-report their mood. If the mood tracker identifies dads as needing extra support, they will be offered a phone call from a counsellor trained in this area.
Following the success of the pilot of the SMS4dads program, Funding was received to enable a National roll-out.
“When dad’s miss antenatal classes or activities, they also miss out on contact and links to other people. They may never get the chance to say to anyone, look I’m really stressed,” he points out.
“SMS4dads is a way of bringing dads into the health system and keeping them linked in with services and support,” explains Richard.
Richard credits a varied career, a talented and innovative team, and much life experience for affording him the insight needed to address the challenges related to actively engaging dads.
After completing his masters in Medical Science, studying epidemiology, Richard earned his PhD focusing on fathers and attachment.
“Fathers are invisible in many places, and that is endemic. Not because people dislike fathers, but because the system is set up to be focused on mothers.”
Some services and organisations are aware of the need to engage dads, but have been unsuccessful in their attempts.
“When people are challenged about this, they generally want dads involved,” Richard affirms.
“Often, however, they just don’t know how to do it.”
Richard works with health professionals on issues related to fathers, and has delivered many antenatal programs for expectant dads.
He credits his own family with giving him an understanding of the role of fathers needed to make his work relevant.
“I have three daughters and two stepdaughters,”
“My kids would say they taught me just about everything I know and they’d be right. They’ve taught me a lot, and still do.”