New Zealand’s Parliament approved legislation on Wednesday that would guarantee three days of paid leave to couples suffering from a miscarriage or stillbirth. Meanwhile over here in sunny America, employees at Walmart, the country’s largest employer, are harshly reprimanded and penalized for taking time off to recover from a miscarriage.
The New York Times reports that New Zealand employers were already required to offer paid leave for couples who experience a stillbirth when a pregnancy is lost at 20 weeks or more. But now the country has expanded the definition of that legislation to include “anyone who loses a pregnancy at any point.” In comparison, Australia offers unpaid leave if people lose a fetus after 12 weeks; in Britain leave kicks in after 24 weeks. The U.S., again, has no requirement that employers offer leave to someone who suffers a miscarriage. If anything, your American employer is more likely to force you to work strenuously through your pregnancy, creating conditions that are more likely to produce a miscarriage.
Three days is still a very short allotment of time to grieve and recover from a miscarriage. For example in India, women who experience a miscarriage are granted six weeks of paid leave, CNN reports. But the New Zealand legislation is a step in the right direction for more expansive definitions of maternity leave that include loss as well.
“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,” Ginny Andersen, the Labour member of Parliament who drafted the bill, told The New York Times. And it’s another depressing reminder of how little protection American women have in the workplace when it comes to their maternal health.