New Zealand passes miscarriages bereavement leave law

New Zealand’s parliament has passed legislation giving mothers and their partners the right to paid leave following a miscarriage or still birth, becoming only the second country in the world to do so.

The bereavement allowance, passed unanimously in parliament late on Wednesday, gives employees three days leave when a pregnancy ends with a stillbirth without having to tap into sick leave.

“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,” said Labour Party MP Ginny Andersen, 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 leave provisions apply to mothers, their partners as well as parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy, she said.

One in four New Zealand women have had a miscarriage, Andersen said in her statement.

India is the only other country with similar legislation, media said.

New Zealand was the first country in the world to give voting rights to women and has been an pioneer on issues around woman’s rights.

The ruling centre-left Labour government is led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is seen as a global champion for women. Her government last year passed a historic law to decriminalise abortion.