Parental leave for stillbirth, premature birth or infant death

The stillbirth, premature birth or death of your child is one of the toughest experiences in life. We have information to help you understand workplace entitlements.

Unpaid parental leave

If an employee’s baby is stillborn or their child dies in the first 24 months of life, they can take up to 12 months’ unpaid parental leave. Their employer can’t:

  • call them back to work
  • cancel their unpaid parental leave.

Employees who experience a stillbirth or death of their child can choose to cancel their unpaid parental leave and return to work.

If the employee hasn’t started their unpaid parental leave, they just need to give written notice cancelling the leave. If they decide to return to work after starting their leave, they need to give their employer at least 4 weeks’ written notice before returning.

Employers and employees can agree to an earlier return date.

Find out more about eligibility and notice requirements for taking unpaid parental leave on our Applying for parental leave page.

Compassionate leave

Employees can take compassionate leave if:

  • a member of their immediate family or household dies, or contracts or develops a life-threatening illness or injury
  • a baby in their immediate family or household is stillborn
  • they have a miscarriage
  • their current spouse or de facto partner has a miscarriage.

Employees who are already on unpaid parental leave can still take compassionate leave.

Find out more about compassionate leave entitlements at Compassionate and bereavement leave.

Premature birth and birth-related complications

An employee can agree with their employer to put their unpaid parental leave on hold if:

  • they experience a premature birth or gestational or other birth-related complications, and
  • their newborn has to stay in hospital or be hospitalised immediately after birth.

This means that while their newborn is in hospital, parents can return to work and the period when they are back at work will not be deducted from their unpaid parental leave. The employee can then resume their unpaid parental leave at the earliest of:

  • a time agreed with their employer
  • the end of the day when the newborn is discharged from the hospital
  • if the newborn dies, the end of the day when the newborn dies.

Tools and resources

Support services are available if you've experienced or are impacted by stillbirth.

Stillbirth Foundation Australia external-icon.png provide practical resources and emotional help external-icon.png for parents who have experienced a stillbirth. They also provide resources and advice for family members, friends and colleagues external-icon.png who are supporting someone through the impact of stillbirth.

Related information

Need help resolving workplace issues about pregnancy, parental leave and returning to work?

For employees:

If you’ve lost your job, contact the Fair Work Commission (the FWC) first if you think you were fired because of:

  • discrimination
  • a reason that is harsh, unjust or unreasonable
  • another protected right.

You have 21 days from the day you were fired to lodge an application with the FWC. Check the information at the FWC website to find out if you can apply for:

For employees and employers:

  • Find information, downloadable guides and toolkits on pregnancy, parental leave and parents in the workplace on the Supporting working parents external-icon.png website. 
  • Learn about discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment in the workplace and what can be done to stop it.
  • If you think a mistake has been made about pay, parental leave or returning to work, see our Fixing a workplace problem section for practical advice on:
    • figuring out if a mistake has been made
    • talking to your employer or employee about fixing it
    • getting help from us if you still can’t resolve it.

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