AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand’s Parliament on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that would give couples who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth three days’ paid leave, putting the country in the vanguard of those providing such benefits.
Ginny Andersen, the Labour member of Parliament who drafted the bill, said she had not been able to find comparable legislation anywhere in the world. “We may well be the first country,” she said, adding, “But all the countries that New Zealand is usually compared to legislate for the 20-week mark.”
Employers in New Zealand, as in some other countries, had already been required to provide paid leave in the event of a stillbirth, when a fetus is lost after a gestation of 20 weeks or more. The new legislation will expand that leave to anyone who loses a pregnancy at any point, removing any ambiguity. The measure is expected to become law in the coming weeks.
“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,” Ms. Andersen said.
The new law does not apply to those who terminate pregnancies, Ms. Andersen added. New Zealand decriminalized abortion last year, ending the country’s status as one of the few wealthy nations to limit the grounds for ending a pregnancy in the first half.
In Australia, people who miscarry are entitled to unpaid leave if they lose a fetus after 12 weeks, while in Britain, would-be parents who experience a stillbirth after 24 weeks are eligible for paid leave. The United States does not require employers to provide leave for anyone who suffers a miscarriage.