New Zealand passes miscarriage bereavement leave




March 25, 2021

The leave provisions also apply to parents waiting to adopt or expecting a child through surrogacy.

The Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage bill was put forward by Labour MP Ginny Andersen, who said she hopes it will “go some way in recognising the need for time and space to deal with the unimaginable grief that comes with losing a pregnancy”.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Andersen said the passing of the bill is another example of how New Zealand is leading the way for “progressive and compassionate legislation”.

“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,” she said.

Final reading of my Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage Bill. This is a Bill about workers’ rights and fairness. I hope it gives people time to grieve and promotes greater openness about miscarriage. We should not be fearful of our bodies.

— Ginny Andersen (@ginnyandersen) March 24, 2021

It’s estimated that miscarriage happens in around 1 in 4 recognised pregnancies, with 85% of those happening in the first trimester (weeks 1 to 12). A ‘late’ miscarriage may occur between weeks 13 to 24 of pregnancy. After 24 weeks, the loss is considered a stillbirth.

New Zealand is only the second country to offer miscarriage leave, with women in India entitled to six weeks of paid maternity leave after a miscarriage or medical termination.

Some other countries have provisions for leave if a woman has a stillbirth. In the Canadian province of Ontario, a woman is entitled to 17 weeks of unpaid pregnancy leave if she loses a baby 17 weeks or less before her due date.

In the UK, a stillbirth after the 24th week of pregnancy entitles the mother to paid maternity leave.

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