New Zealand approves paid leave for miscarriage

Led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand has spearheaded progressive women’s rights policies with free menstrual products in schools and landmark pay equity laws. Now, the country is expanding upon its public health policies surrounding reproductive rights and has unanimously approved a bill that gives mothers and their partners the right to paid leave following a miscarriage or stillbirth. 

Called bereavement allowance, the new law was passed by parliament last week and gives employees three days of paid leave in the event that pregnancy ends in stillbirth or miscarriage. The law applies to pregnant individuals and their partners as well as those planning to have a child through surrogacy or adoption. 

The bill was introduced by Labour Party MP Ginny Andersen who said, “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.”

An estimated one in four women in New Zealand have had a miscarriage, yet it is only the second country in the world, following India, to make labor rights provisions for this health condition. This is a historic move for progressive and compassionate legislation surrounding reproductive rights and we hope to see more countries follow suit.

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