In closing Women’s History Month, New Zealand just upped their game by voting in another progressive bill in favour of women’s rights.
Following a unanimous vote in parliament, New Zealand will now offer up to three days of paid leave for people who suffer pregnancy loss. The Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage Bill is reportedly a world first and will come into effect in the next few weeks.
The country’s labour laws already cover paid leave in the event of pregnancy loss after 20 weeks, also referred to as a stillbirth. However, this latest and updated Miscarriage Bill ensures that paid leave is also extended to pregnancy losses that occur at any point, not just after 20 weeks.
What’s even better is that paid leave following pregnancy loss now applies to both the pregnant person and her partner. As of now, the legislation does not cover abortions.
Taking a look at how other countries compare so far: Australia allows citizens to apply for unpaid leave after going through a miscarriage only after 12 weeks; the UK offers paid leave for people suffering stillbirths after 24 weeks; while in the US, there are still no paid leave allocations following pregnancy loss.
Ginny Andersen, the Labour MP behind the bill, said New Zealand “may well be the first country” to introduce such a law. “But all the countries that New Zealand is usually compared to legislate for the 20-week mark,” said Andersen. She added, “I felt that it would give women the confidence to be able to request that leave if it was required, as opposed to just being stoic and getting on with life, when they knew that they needed time, physically or psychologically, to get over the grief.”
Well done, New Zealand! Now, if only the rest of the world could catch up…
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