Exploring the experience of presenteeism among fathers returning to work following a perinatal death. By: Meunier, Sophie; de Montigny, Francine; Lalande, Dominique; Lord-Gauthier, Jici and Lauzier, Martin. 2024. Community, Work & Family. p1-14.

Perinatal death is a frequent event that affects one in five pregnancies in western countries. It disrupts parents’ different life spheres, including their work. Fathers, more specifically, usually return to work quickly after their loss. Given the significant psychological impacts of this traumatic experience, they are likely to engage in presenteeism, i.e. reporting to work while still mourning their loss and experiencing psychological distress. However, few studies have documented this phenomenon. To fill this gap, the present study seeks to understand the nature, underlying motivations and perceived repercussions of presenteeism in fathers returning to work following a perinatal death. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 41 fathers who experienced an early or late perinatal death. Thematic analysis indicates that many fathers returned to work while still experiencing acute symptoms of psychological distress and thus engaged in presenteeism. For most fathers, presenteeism was involuntary and associated with working conditions beyond their control (e.g. workload, lack of paid leave). However, some participants returned to work out of intrinsic interest. Fathers perceived that their act of presenteeism affected them personally, as well as their organization, and their family (i.e. spouse, other children).