New Zealand approves paid leave after a miscarriage or still-birth

20 June 2021

Until recently, the Holidays Act only provided for bereavement leave after an employee experienced the death of a child, but it had not been clear whether this provision included unborn children or developing embryos.

As of 1 April 2021, the Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Act 2021 took effect. This act gives grieving parents three days of bereavement leave following a miscarriage or stillbirth. People planning to have a child through surrogacy or adoption are also eligible if the pregnancy ends by miscarriage or stillbirth.

A miscarriage is a pregnancy that is up to 20 weeks along and a still-birth is a pregnancy that is more than 20 weeks. Around 1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriage, whereas still-births are less common affecting around 1 in every 200 pregnancies. The law change does not provide bereavement leave for terminating a pregnancy.

The purpose of the legislation is to give employees time to grieve and take care of matters to do with the bereavement. It still remains the same that employees are only eligible for bereavement leave after 6 months, and the leave can be taken at any time and for any purpose relating to the death. The leave does not have to be taken straight away or on consecutive days.

Employers need to be aware that an employee is not required to provide proof of pregnancy, miscarriage or stillbirth.

If you would like guidance or advice on your legal obligations around bereavement leave, please contact our Commercial Disputes and Employment Team.

Commercial Disputes & Employment Team