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
New Zealand's parliament unanimously passed the Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage Bill — which gives women and their partners three paid days off to grieve after experiencing pregnancy loss — on March 24. The new legislation also applies to parents who were planning to start their family through adoption or surrogacy if pregnancy loss has occurred.
"The bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave," Ginny Andersen, a member of the Labour Party led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, told local network TVNZ. "Because their grief is not a sickness. It is a loss. And loss takes time."
Although employers in some countries are required to give individuals paid time off if they have a stillbirth at or beyond 20 weeks gestation, the new bill will apply to anyone who loses a pregnancy at any point. Currently, the only other country to approve similar legislation is the Canadian province of Ontario, which gives women 17 weeks of unpaid pregnancy leave if they lose their child 17 weeks or less before their due date.
Although New Zealand decriminalized abortion in 2020, Andersen noted that people who undergo that procedure are not entitled to three days of paid leave under the new law.
"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 Andersen, who honored those who have experienced pregnancy loss. "I'd like to acknowledge the one in four New Zealand women who have had a miscarriage. I hope this bill will go some way in recognizing the need for time and space to deal with the unimaginable grief that comes with losing a pregnancy."