New Zealand considers a new kind of parental benefit: bereavement leave for miscarriages

March 25, 2021, 1:17 PM UTC
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Attends Events In Wellington
Labour MP Ginny Andersen looks on during a visit to Trade School Kitchen on July 30, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Andersen introduced a bill for bereavement leave for miscarriages, which passed Parliament on Wednesday.
Hagen Hopkins—Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Mastercard ties exec bonuses to gender pay parity, the Senate confirms Dr. Rachel Levine, and New Zealand considers a new kind of leave. Have a great Thursday.

– A new kind of leave. In recent years, some employers—especially progressive Silicon Valley giants and professional services firms—have taken admirable steps to ensure expectant parents have the time and resources needed to adapt to parenthood and bond with a new baby. But many of those policies overlook the devastating reality that a significant share of pregnancies don’t make it to full term.

A new bill in New Zealand acknowledges that hard truth by offering new parents three bereavement days at full pay for women and their partners after a pregnancy loss, including those planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy. The bill passed the country’s parliament with unanimous support on Wednesday.

Sponsor Ginny Andersen said in a tweet that she hopes the legislation “gives people time to grieve and promotes greater openness about miscarriage.”

“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,” Andersen told a local TV network.

New Zealand is not the first country to draft legislation for such a benefit. In India, women can receive six weeks’ leave if they miscarry a baby. In the U.K., women have the right to paid leave if a pregnancy is lost after 24 weeks. Bereavement leave for miscarriage may not spread to other countries—remember, the U.S. still guarantees new parents zero paid leave—but MP Jan Logie argues that the bill’s debate alone helped normalize talk of pregnancy loss. “[W]e have for a long time, through silence and stigma, forced women—primarily women—into actually just pretending as if it hasn’t happened,” she said.

Indeed, like the more realistic portrayals of expectant and new moms we’re seeing these days—Nike’s maternity wear ad, Frida’s breastfeeding spot—the bill helps dismantle the dangerous myth that motherhood is easy, linear, and without heartbreak.

Claire Zillman

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe


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