Broadcast specialists and independent public relations agency MediaCast has introduced paid pregnancy loss leave and IVF leave for all staff as part of a new incentives scheme rollout.
The agency now offers staff five flexible days of IVF leave per year for those starting their journey to parenthood, and one week of paid leave for every pregnancy loss.
Changes to federal policy in 2021 require employers to allocate two days of paid compassionate leave to staff experiencing pregnancy loss. However, Australia is not a global leader in legal protections for bereaved workers, and MediaCast Managing Director Fran Chalmers believes two days is completely insubstantial to acknowledge such a huge event in someone’s life.
“We know that miscarriage affects one in four pregnancies, and sadly everyone knows someone who has experienced a loss. We work with so many beautiful organisations that support bereaved parents, and have had countless conversations with clients and case studies about what more can be done to support parents experiencing a loss.
“Too often we hear stories of people chewing through their sick leave, grieving alone because their partner can’t take time off or feeling an immense pressure to return to work as quickly as possible. None of these scenarios sit well with us, and don’t align with our core values of compassion, respect and integrity. As such, we’ve introduced our pregnancy loss leave for both women and men, to truly support our staff through the devastation of a pregnancy loss.”
In December of 2021, Australian fertility rates hit a record low1
, so IVF has become a necessary but draining undertaking for thousands of Australians with over 81,000 IVF cycles taking place in 20192
. Again, this can see Australians tapping into their leave due to the frequent medical appointments needed to facilitate the process.
MediaCast hopes that their new initiatives will help to relieve some of the pressure felt by staff undertaking IVF and also remove the secrecy around the process.
“We recognise that IVF is a unique journey and we’d hate for anyone to ever feel like they have to use up their leave, or make up excuses for medical appointments. There is still such a stigma around fertility challenges, and we hope that with the introduction of our flexible IVF leave, our staff feel supported to share their journey, should they feel comfortable to do so, and know that they will be fully supported,” Ms Chalmers said.
MediaCast also announced their paid maternity leave scheme which will provide 4 – 16 weeks of additional leave to staff, on top of paid parental leave required by the Australian Government. The organisation hopes that sharing their new incentives encourages other agencies to reassess how they look after staff in all stages of their journey to parenthood – not just with traditional maternity leave.
“At MediaCast, our goal is to champion families. For years, we’ve worked with NFPs such as Miracle Babies and Gidget Foundation Australia to deliver campaigns about supporting Australians through the challenges of falling pregnant, pregnancy, early parenthood, premature birth and loss. It would be disingenuous of us to promote the importance of supporting parents’ and their mental health and not do this for our wonderful team.
“I’m incredibly proud of the initiatives we’ve put in place to support our staff, and we’ve had extremely positive feedback from the team as well. Of course, no one ever wants to experience fertility struggles or pregnancy loss, but I hope our team know that if they should, we’ve got their backs,” Ms Chalmers said.