On 25 March 2021, New Zealand’s parliament voted in favour to give mothers and their partners three days for bereavement leave in the event of a miscarriage or stillbirth.
The loss of a child is something that no one should go through and clearly, such a loss can take time for someone to recover both mentally and physically.
New Zealand’s new legislation will be applied to parents, their partners, and parents who are planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.
Labour MP Ginner Anderson hopes that the updated Bill is about workers’ rights and fairness. She hopes that it will give “people time to grieve and promotes greater openness about miscarriage”.
Are there any short comings in the Bill?
The bill does not apply to women who end their pregnancy early through abortion.
Is New Zealand the only country with such progressive legislation in place?
No, India has an even more progressive legislation for miscarriage which entitles women to 6 weeks’ leave but this is rarely enforced in practice.
In Canada, if a woman loses her baby 17 weeks or less into her pregnancy, she is entitled to 17 weeks of unpaid pregnancy leave.
What is Great Britain’s approach?
We do not currently have any legislation in place for miscarriage, however, we offer parental bereavement leave if a child dies under the age of 18 or a child is stillborn after 24 weeks’ pregnancy. Time off can also be taken where parents are supporting a dependant.
What should you be aware of as an employer?
Parents who are eligible may be entitled to 2 weeks’ Statutory Parental Bereavement Leave, and Pay, if they are an employee or worker.
Please note that the rights apply to:
- biological parent.
- parents who adopt, if the child was living with them.
- a person who lived with the child and had responsibility for them, for at least 4 weeks before they died.
- an ‘intended parent’ – due to become the legal parent through surrogacy.
- partner of the child’s parent, if they live with the child and the child’s parent in an enduring family relationship.
How can we support you?
As an employer, it is helpful to have a written policy in place to ensure that all cases are handled sensitively and consistently. Whilst you do not need to provide paid time off for an employee who suffers from a miscarriage, it is mandatory to grant parental bereavement leave and pay if the employee qualifies.
We understand that the above situation can be a difficult time for your employee, and we are here to help.