The Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No.2) (Bill) passed on 24 March and is set to become law in New Zealand upon receiving Royal Assent.
The Bill provides three days bereavement leave for mothers and their partners where a pregnancy has ended due to a miscarriage or stillbirth. A person who has undertaken the role of a parent through adoption or surrogacy is also entitled to bereavement leave under this legislation.
The purpose of the Bill is to remove ambiguity in the Holidays Act 2003 in regards to bereavement leave, as well as to ensure women and their partners have the time they need to deal with the loss, away from work.
Ginny Anderson, the MP who introduced the Bill, acknowledges that one in four women in New Zealand suffer from a miscarriage, but that not all employers provided paid leave for their employees under the former provisions in the Holiday Act 2003.
“We are fortunate enough to have many decent employers in this country who are already allowing bereavement leave to be taken in the event of miscarriage or stillbirth, but there are some who are not. There are some who are making employees use up their sick leave at a time when they are dealing with extreme loss, and that is callous and that is wrong, because the grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness; it is a loss, and that loss takes time.
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.”
This new law will hopefully not be a major change for many employers. Employers may wish to update agreements for new employees, but there is probably no need to amend existing agreements as the new provisions of the Holidays Act 2003 will apply regardless of what is in the employment agreement.
If you have any questions about this amendment, or the Holidays Act 2003 in general, please get in touch with our employment team or your usual contact at Hesketh Henry.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is current at the date of publishing and is of a general nature. It should be used as a guide only and not as a substitute for obtaining legal advice. Specific legal advice should be sought where required.