New Zealand's parliament has passed legislation granting mothers and their partners the right to paid leave after a miscarriage or stillbirth.
The bereavement allowance passed unanimously in parliament on Wednesday, March 24, gives employees three days leave when a pregnancy ends with a stillbirth, rather than forcing them to take their sick leaves, reported Deccan Herald.
The leave also extends to a woman's partner if she suffers a miscarriage, as well as to people trying to have a child through surrogacy. The new law, however, does not apply to those who terminate pregnancies.
Lawmaker Ginny Andersen said, "A stillbirth should be recognised with dedicated bereavement leave but the stigma that still surrounds the issue meant many people were reluctant to discuss it."
"The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness; it is a loss, and that loss takes time -- time to recover physically and time to recover mentally," she told the parliament.
The law aims to continue the New Zealand parliament's role in pioneering women's rights, including voting rights, equal pay and decriminalising abortion.
"I can only hope that while we may be one of the first, we will not be one of the last and that other countries will also begin to legislate for a compassionate and fair leave system that recognises the pain and the grief that comes from miscarriage and stillbirth," she said.
India is the only other country with similar legislation, reported Livemint.
In Australia, people who suffer a miscarriage 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 have any such provision as of now.