Is there a law for miscarriage leave in India? Are women given time off to cope in the event of child loss? What safety nets are in place to give families assurance in these cases? Here’s all you need to know.
In what is being hailed as momentous and necessary legislation, New Zealand, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, passed the miscarriage bereavement law, approving paid leave for grieving families in case of such a life event. If a pregnancy results in miscarriage or stillbirth, parents can avail three days of paid leave, which will not eat into their sick leave days.
“Grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. And loss takes time”: New Zealand leaders
“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,” leaders in the ruling Labour Party said. The law will extend to parents considering adoptions and surrogacy as well.
The only other country in the world to have similar legislation is India, which has led the fore in recognising miscarriage grief by law since 1961.
Understanding The Law For Miscarriage Leave In India
1. In India, the miscarriage leave is over and above New Zealand’s three days, extending to six weeks of paid leave under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 1961. The Act was introduced to establish maternity benefits for employed women in the periods before and after childbirth.
2. The law states, “In case of miscarriage, a woman shall, on production of such proof as may be prescribed, be entitled to leave with wages at the rate of maternity benefit for a period of six weeks immediately following the day of her miscarriage.”
3. Further, there are additional paid leave policies in case of sickness arising out of miscarriage, which extend upto a month. This benefit extends to ailments resulting from pregnancy, delivery and premature birth of the child as well.
4. The Maternity Act also prohibits employers from imposing strenuous work or activity on pregnant women, which may result in damage to health or lead to risks of miscarriage.
5. The law in India is currently not gender-neutral, as in New Zealand, and is available only to women.
How to avail miscarriage leave in India?
Women availing miscarriage leave in India will have to submit medical proof to the Human Resource (HR) persons at their place of employment. HR will look into the certification from the woman’s doctor or hospital that testifies her foetus has been miscarried, before proceeding to approve her period of paid leave from work.
There is no upper limit mentioned in the Maternity Act on the number of times a grieving woman can avail of miscarriage leave in India.