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25th Mar 2021

New Zealand approves automatic paid leave after miscarriages and still births

Stephen Porzio

The new measure is believed to be one of the first of its kind worldwide.

Working mothers and their partners in New Zealand are now allowed to take paid bereavement leave if they suffer a miscarriage or still birth.

It comes after the country’s parliament on Wednesday passed the Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage Bill, enabling mothers and their partners three days leave in such circumstances.

Prior to this, bereavement leave in New Zealand was provided after an employee experienced the death of a child but the law did not make clear whether this included unborn children or developing embryos.

Parents planning to adopt a child and parents having a baby through surrogacy are now also entitled to bereavement leave on the unplanned end of the relevant pregnancy.

Labour MP Ginny Andersen, who presented the bill, told parliament before it was approved: “We are fortunate enough to have many decent employers in this country who are already allowing bereavement leave to be taken in the event of miscarriage or still birth.

“But there are some who are not. There are some who are making employees use up their sick leave at a time when they are dealing with extreme loss.

“That is callous and that is wrong”.

She added: “The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness.

“It is a loss, and that loss takes time – time to recover physically and time to recover mentally.”

Andersen said the bill would allow parents to come to terms with their loss.