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New Zealand approves paid leave after miscarriages or stillbirths

Parents will be entitled to three days bereavement rather than using sick leave (Picture: Getty)

New Zealand’s parliament has unanimously approved a groundbreaking bill that would give mothers and their partners three days paid bereavement leave after a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Lawmakers said the legislation, passed on Wednesday night, would allow parents some time to come to terms with their loss without having to use their sick leave.

It is expected to come into effect in the coming weeks and also applies to parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.

Labour MP Ginny Andersen said a stillbirth should be recognised with dedicated bereavement leave but the stigma and silence many face after losing a pregnancy means mothers were reluctant to discuss it.

‘The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness; it is a loss, and that loss takes time – time to recover physically and time to recover mentally,’ she told parliament.

Speaking about the Bill before its final reading, Ms Andersen tweeted: ‘This is a Bill about workers’ rights and fairness.

‘I hope it gives people time to grieve and promotes greater openness about miscarriage. We should not be fearful of our bodies.’

Green MP Jan Logie highlighted that one in four women in the nation had suffered a miscarriage, while about 20,000 go through miscarriage or stillbirth every year.

She said: ‘It is an incredibly normal experience, but normal doesn’t mean easy; it doesn’t mean without pain.

‘But we have for a long time, through silence and stigma, forced women – primarily women – into actually just pretending as if it hasn’t happened.’

Similarly to other countries, New Zealand already gives workers paid leave following a stillbirth but the new legislation extends this to miscarriages.

Ms Andersen said the law continued New Zealand’s role in pioneering women’s rights, most notably on voting rights and equal pay.

She added: ‘I can only hope that while we may be one of the first, we will not be one of the last, and that other countries will also begin to legislate for a compassionate and fair leave system that recognises the pain and the grief that comes from miscarriage and stillbirth.’

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