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25th Mar 2021

New Zealand brings in automatic paid leave after miscarriage or stillbirth

paid leave after miscarriage or stillbirth in New Zealand

New Zealand’s parliament has voted unanimously to give mothers and their partners three days of bereavement leave after a miscarriage or stillbirth.

The new bereavement allowance will give employees three days’ leave when a pregnancy ends with a stillbirth or miscarriage, rather than forcing families to use their sick leave.

Labour MP Ginny Andersen, who presented the bill, said:

“The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness; it is a loss,” she said. “That loss takes time – time to recover physically and time to recover mentally; time to recover with a partner”.

The legislation applies to parents, their partners, and parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.

Andersen pointed out that one in four New Zealand women have had a miscarriage, and around 20,000 women lose a pregnancy through miscarriage or stillbirth every year.

“It is an incredibly normal experience, but normal doesn’t mean easy; it doesn’t mean without pain. But we have for a long time, through silence and stigma, forced women – primarily women – into actually just pretending as if it hasn’t happened.”

A few countries across the world already have policies in place that allows mothers and families to take paid or unpaid leave after a stillbirth or miscarriage.

In India, the law stipulates women are entitled to six weeks’ leave if they suffer a miscarriage, however, as the vast majority of employees engage in informal work, the reality is that few are able to access it.

In Norway, if a stillbirth occurs after week 27 of pregnancy, the mother is entitled to avail of paid leave for up to 33 weeks.

Canada is another country which such laws in place. In the province of Ontario, if a woman loses a baby 17 weeks or less before her due date, she is entitled to take up to 17 weeks of unpaid leave from her job.