New Zealand’s Parliament has approved a bill to give mothers and their partners three days paid bereavement leave, following a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Labour lawmaker Ginny Andersen presented the bill for its third reading on Wednesday and it was passed by the country’s parliament members, and will now be signed into law.
Speaking in Parliament, Andersen said that the bill was primarily about “fairness and workers’ rights” but also hoped it would “promote openness in our society about pregnancy, stillbirth and miscarriage.”
“We should not be fearful of our bodies, or shroud them in mystery, it is simply part of life,” she added.
The bereavement leave for miscarriage bill is an amendment to an existing New Zealand act on vacation days and sick leave. It seeks to remove some of the “ambiguity” around what constitutes bereavement leave.
The bill also applies to those seeking to adopt or have a child through surrogacy, as well as a former spouse or partner if they are the biological parent.
Andersen highlighted that 20,000 women in New Zealand have a miscarriage each year.
She said that while there were many “decent employers” in the country who already offered bereavement leave following a miscarriage or stillbirth, there were still some who didn’t.
“There are some who are making employees use up their sick leave at a time of loss and that is callous and that is wrong because the grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness, Mr Speaker, it is a loss and that loss takes time,” Andersen said.
She hoped that while New Zealand was one of the first to pass such legislation, it would not be the last and that other countries would follow suit.
“The passing of this bill shows that once again New Zealand is leading the way for women becoming only the second country in the world — as far as I’m aware of — to provide leave for miscarriage and for stillbirth,” she said.
India allows women to have six weeks’ leave if they miscarry, paid “at the rate of maternity benefit.”