Sometimes it takes the action of others to realise how much we are ahead of the curve, creating a much-needed point for comparison.
New Zealand has passed a miscarriage bereavement leave law that provides employees three days leave when a pregnancy ends with a stillbirth without having to tap into sick leave.
While it is ok to hail this move as “progressive”, “empowering” etc, one must hold a bit and reflect on the fact that India already has such provision in the Maternity Benefit Act 1961. In fact, India’s relief for miscarriage has an even broader reach, as it provides a maximum of one month of paid leave. Here is the relevant part of Indian law.
It is to be recalled that this maternity law got amended in 2017 to increase the maternity paid leave benefit from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
According to a report in Reuters, Labour Party MP Ginny Andersen, who initiated the bill acknowledged this fact, albeit not naming India. She said, “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.”
But for some in the western media, it seems to be difficult to acknowledge India where credit is due and like to believe that New Zealand is the first country to come up with such a progressive measure.
According to a report in CBS News “The United States does not have any laws requiring employers to grant leave to anyone who experiences a miscarriage. In Britain, those who suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks can receive paid time off, while in Australia, they are entitled to unpaid leave after 12 weeks.”