We are increasingly seeing governments around the globe pass more progressive and compassionate legislation around families and pregnant women. For instance, in the US, there’s a new bill, known as the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, currently in the House and commentators believe it just might pass. The bill would clarify and strengthen the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which was passed more than 40 years ago as an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and provide women who face pregnancy discrimination a clear channel for recourse.

Along these lines, this week New Zealand will become one of the first few countries providing paid leave for miscarriages.[1] The Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No 2) (view bill HERE) was just granted royal assent and the new law is effective March 31. The law extends current paid bereavement leave law for employees in New Zealand to miscarriages and stillbirths.

Currently, employers in New Zealand are required to provide paid bereavement leave to certain employees (generally those who have worked for the employer continuously for at least six months). Eligible employees are entitled to three days of paid bereavement leave per death, if a spouse or partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or spouse or partner’s parent dies (see more information HERE).

This law will extend the scope of paid bereavement leave in New Zealand to miscarriages and stillbirths. Bereavement leave is still available to mothers, but also to their spouse or partner, former spouse of partner (if they would have been a biological parent of the child), if the employee had undertaken to be the primary care giver of a child born as a result of the pregnancy (e.g., surrogacy or adoption), or if the employee is the spouse or partner of a person who had undertaken to be the primary care giver of a child born as a result of the pregnancy. The law does not extend to abortion.

For assistance navigating new leave obligations and employee entitlements, please contact your Baker McKenzie employment lawyer.

[1] We note that certain female employees in India are also entitled to certain paid leave following a miscarriage under the Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (as amended by the 2017 Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act). Further, in Australia, women can take unpaid leave if they lose a baby after at least 12 weeks of pregnancy and in Britain, women are entitled to paid leave if they have a miscarriage or stillborn birth after 24 weeks. The United States has no laws addressing miscarriages or stillborn births and the workplace.