The bereavement allowance, passed unanimously in parliament late Wednesday, gives employees three days of paid 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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/dwUWINVjLm
— Ginny Andersen (@ginnyandersen) March 24, 2021
The bill does not apply to women who end a pregnancy through abortion.
India is the only other country in the world with similar legislation, which allows women to take up to six weeks of leave after a miscarriage. But the legislation is gaining global attention, with Washington D.C. recently expanding bereavement leave for public employees who lose a child under the age of 21, including a stillborn baby.
“I can only hope that while we may be one of the first, we will not be one of the last, and that other countries will also begin to legislate for a compassionate and fair leave system that recognizes the pain and the grief that comes from miscarriage and stillbirth,” Andersen said on Wednesday during the final reading of the bill in parliament.
New Zealand’s center-left Labour government is led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is seen as a global champion for women. She was the second elected head of government to give birth while in office, and made history in 2018 when she brought her then-three-month-old daughter, Neve, to the United Nations General Assembly.