This circular is to inform Australian Government employers of the recent changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 that provide improved support for parents who experience miscarriage.
The changes apply to an employee’s entitlements under the National Employment Standards (NES). Therefore, they override provisions in enterprise agreements or other industrial instruments where those provisions are less beneficial than the NES.
The Sex Discrimination and Fair Work (Respect at Work) Amendment Act 2021 amended the Fair Work Act to provide up to two days’ compassionate leave if an employee, or an employee’s spouse or de facto partner, has a miscarriage.
Miscarriage is defined as the spontaneous loss of the embryo or fetus before 20 weeks’ gestation.
Employees are now eligible for up to two days’ paid compassionate leave in the event that they miscarry, or their spouse or de facto partner miscarries.
Compassionate leave for casual employees will be unpaid, in line with the Fair Work Act 2009.
Agencies should ensure employees accessing this leave comply with the existing notice and evidence requirements that already apply to employees taking compassionate leave for the other prescribed occasions. More information can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.