New Zealand’s parliament has passed legislation allowing pregnant people and their partners paid leave, following the loss of their child at any stage during the pregnancy.
The new law grants employees three days’ additional leave when a pregnancy ends with a miscarriage or stillbirth, giving them some time to begin to heal, both physically and emotionally.
In a further progressive step, the bereavement allowance applies not only to expectant parents and their partners, but also to parents planning to have a child through surrogacy or adoption.
As in some other countries, employers in New Zealand had already been required to provide paid leave in the event of a stillbirth, when a foetus is lost after 20 weeks or more. The new legislation has taken this a step further, granting paid leave following a miscarriage at any stage during the pregnancy. This removes ambiguity around the previous law and ensures the allowance is given to any expectant parent.
“I felt that it would give women the confidence to be able to request that leave if it was required, as opposed to just being stoic and getting on with life, when they knew that they needed time, physically or psychologically, to get over the grief,” said Labour MP Ginny Anderson, who initiated the bill.
“The bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave. Because their grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. And loss takes time.”
The legislation was passed unanimously in parliament late Wednesday and makes New Zealand one of the first countries in the world to recognise the grief associated with miscarriage within employer law.
As stated by Ginny Anderson, “The passing of this bill shows that once again New Zealand is leading the way for progressive and compassionate legislation, becoming only the second country in the world to provide leave for miscarriage and stillbirth.”
The measure is expected to become law in the coming weeks.