Women in New Zealand could soon be entitled to paid bereavement leave after suffering a miscarriage or stillbirth, as parliament considers new legislation.
A new bill calling for three days paid leave for women and their partners in the event of a miscarriage is to be discussed in New Zealand’s parliament after backing from MP Ginny Anderson. The Labour MP claims miscarriage and stillbirth is still a ‘taboo subject’ in the county.
The Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill hopes to amend the existing Holidays Act of 2003, statin women and their partners will be entitled to three days paid bereavement leave after a miscarriage. The bill also applies in the case of a stillbirth.
Currently, New Zealand’s laws on bereavement leave are not explicit when it comes to miscarriages, however, employees are entitled to a minimum of three days paid absence following the loss of a spouse, partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild and spouse’s parent.
“The lack of clarity had meant some women have been in the position of having to argue with their employer about whether they are entitled to leave because they have lost their unborn child,” Anderson states, according to The Guardian.
Congratulations to @ginnyandersen for getting her Bill drawn! The Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill amends the Holidays Act 2003 to make it clear that women and their partners can get 3 days bereavement leave after a miscarriage. https://t.co/hjaVDVtWQx pic.twitter.com/sW6cDgphIH— Marja Lubeck (@MarjaLubeck) August 9, 2018
A petition – which has, so far, received over 3,000 signatures in New Zealand – supporting the bill claims the new legislation would help to clear up any ambiguity surrounding leave in the instance of a miscarriage or a stillbirth.
Andersen added that the amendment would mean anyone who had a ‘confirmed pregnancy’ would be entitled to the agreed paid leave, however, there is yet be an agreement over how the pregnancy can be ‘confirmed’.
Is New Zealand the first country to introduce paid miscarriage leave?
Other countries have implemented similar bereavement laws surrounding miscarriage and stillbirth, although the lines around entitlement and paid leave are blurred.
In India, women are entitled to up to six weeks paid leave in the eventuality of a miscarriage, while in the Canadian province of Ontario, a woman can take up to 17 weeks unpaid ‘pregnancy leave’ if she loses a baby within 17 weeks of her due date.
What are the laws surrounding miscarriage and bereavement leave in the UK?
The law in the UK regarding paid bereavement leave is equally as ambiguous.
Maternity Action reveals, “If your baby is stillborn after the end of the 24th week of pregnancy you are entitled to maternity leave and any maternity pay that you qualify for.”
They also stipulate that the woman’s partner will also be entitled to their existing paternity leave and pay.
However, if a woman suffers a miscarriage – the baby is stillborn before the 24th week of the pregnancy – she will not qualify for maternity leave or paid bereavement leave.
Women in need of time away from work after suffering a miscarriage in the UK are left to seek compassionate leave, use up annual holiday or agree to a period of unpaid leave with their employer. Women can also take sick leave for as long as their GP signs them off work.
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