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New Zealand approves paid leave for couples who suffer miscarriage

New Zealand’s parliament, on Wednesday, unanimously approved a law that would give couples who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth three days of paid leave.    

The bereavement leave for miscarriage bill is expected to become law in the coming weeks.

Ginny Andersen, member of the parliament that drafted the bill, said the bill was about workers’ right and fairness.

Andersen said the leave would allow mothers and their partners to “come to terms with their loss” without taking a sick leave.

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She said the new law apply to mothers, their partners as well as parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy.

“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,” Andersen said.

“The passing of this bill shows that once again New Zealand is leading the way for progressive and compassionate legislation, becoming only the second country in the world to provide leave for miscarriage and stillbirth.

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“The bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave. Because their grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. And loss takes time.”

She, however, noted that the new law does not apply to abortions.

Last year, the country passed a reform bill that decriminalised abortion and allowed women to choose a termination up to 20 weeks into a pregnancy.

In July 2018, New Zealand passed the domestic violence victim’s protection bill, which allows victims of domestic violence to take up 10 days of paid leave to allow them time to recover, in addition to their annual paid leave.

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New Zealand is reportedly only the second country in the world to introduce the measure–after India.

India’s maternity benefit (amendment) Act 2017 entitles women to six weeks of paid leave in case of miscarriage or a medical termination of pregnancy.

In Australia, the fair work Act allows parents up to 12 months unpaid leave following a stillbirth or death of a child in the first 24 months of life while in Britain, parents who lose a child under the age of 18 or experience a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy have the right to take two weeks’ paid bereavement leave.

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