New Zealand Passes Legislation for Paid Miscarriage Leave

Shawn Tuman
Staff Writer

There has long been a positive correlation between employer support and productivity in the workplace. In response to this, Employment New Zealand reports that New Zealand’s parliament  recently passed  legislation that provides a mandated, three-day paid time off policy to women and spouses who have experienced a miscarriage during their pregnancy..

This sweeping legislative act is not without its obligatory stipulations, BBC News explains. First and foremost, there is a requirement that the pregnancy must reach a minimum of 20 weeks prior to the miscarriage for the paid leave to be put into effect. Second, this mandated paid time off (PTO) is specific to miscarriage and stillbirth. Third, considering the 2020 legislation that determines that abortion would no longer be considered illegal in New Zealand, the current legislation does not include abortion as a PTO-rendering form of miscarriage. Fourth, this bill also applies to parents experiencing pregnancy through surrogacy or adoption.

This legislation, brought forth by Member of Parliament (MP) Ginny Anderson, has been a long time coming. According to the Global Legal Monitor, it was first proposed in parliament in June 2019, after being drawn from the members’ ballot in 2018. This initiative was championed by MP Anderson, who has served as a dedicated advocate after having experience a miscarriage herself. On many occasions, MP Anderson was, and continues to be, an active voice speaking out on behalf of women and couples who have suffered miscarriages across New Zealand. One to two out of every ten pregnant women in New Zealand have suffered a miscarriage, The New York Times reports.

After miscarriage, many women and couples were left without the proper support systems with only sick days available to both potentially bury their miscarried child and grieve. This legislation puts New Zealand’s workforce at the forefront of developed nations by having such miscarriage laws in place. Currently, the Unite States does not have any comparable legislation. 

In respect to putting forth laws and regulations regarding various types of employer support in the workplace, research demonstrates how this may positively and directly impact long-term worker happiness and productivity. New Zealand is not the only country with such legislation. The Washington Post describes that Australia, Britain, India, and the Philippines all offer a variety of PTO options for women who suffer a miscarriage between 12 and 24 weeks of pregnancy and, in some cases, their spouses as well. 

The recently enacted legislation approving three days of PTO guarantees for employees who have suffered a miscarriage after the minimum 20-week gestation period is considered by some to be a step in the right direction toward providing adequate healthcare for employees in New Zealand.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that even the strongest advocates of this legislation, such as pregnancy loss educator, Vicki Collins, feel that this is the beginning of a powerful movement. When interviewed about the bill passing, she responded, “I’m celebrating it,” […] “but I want to see us keeping this compassion going and looking further into the needs of these parents,” According to NPR. This statement rings strong with hope that law makers in New Zealand and elsewhere will continue to remain cognizant. NPR continues, that when addressing such sensitive matters, MP Anderson emphasized, “Grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. And loss takes time.” 

 

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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