#Opinion

Paid Leave After Miscarriage: Yes, Women Deserve Time Off To Heal

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New Zealand passes legislation that allows paid leave for miscarriage: New Zealand has become the second country in the world that will provide citizens with three days of paid leave to women and their partners in case of stillbirth and miscarriage. Reports suggest that the only other country to provide miscarriage leave is India. Yup, you read that right.

New Zealand member of parliament Ginny Anderson, who initiated the bill said, “The bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave,” further adding, “Because their grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. And loss takes time.”

The miscarriage leave policy in India was put into place in 1961, making us the first country to ensure that women suffering miscarriage get the time to heal that they deserve. According to Boom Live, a woman employee is entitled to six weeks of paid leave in case of miscarriage or medical termination of pregnancy.

“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,” says the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act of 1961. It further adds that women can also avail an extra one month of leave in case complications arising due to a miscarriage. Sadly, male employees cannot avail miscarriage leave in India, something that is covered by the new legislation passed by New Zealand.

As Anderson said, loss takes time. Healing, both physical and emotional takes its own time. Miscarriage or even in case of medical termination of pregnancy takes a toll on both parents. Becoming a parent alters the course of your life. The minute you realise you are pregnant and decide to go ahead with it, all your decisions, all your dreams begin to be influenced by a tiny being who is yet to physically enter the world.

Women, undergo additional physical changes as their body begins preparing for carrying a baby for nine long months, birth them and then care for them. But when you miscarry, this journey abruptly ends. Someone close to me went through a miscarriage and I have seen how a miscarriage affects, not just a woman, a couple, but an entire family.

This is why miscarriage leave is a necessity and it is saddening that only two countries across the globe offer it, out of which only one is considerate towards male partners of women who undergo this ordeal.

This needs to change because no employee should have to work through grief and an exhausted mind and body which needs rest and time to heal. And they should be able to do so without having to use their sick leaves. If we want more women in the workplace, and to encourage them to embrace motherhood for the survival of this race in the long run, then it is legislations like miscarriage leave that will create better working spaces.

These leaves should be taken into account not just women, but surrogacy, same-sex couples and men too. Anyone who suffers a tragic loss of a chance to become a parent should be provided with miscarriage leaves because that is the most humane thing we can do for each other -ensuring that a grieving person is made to feel cared for.

When your employers assure you that you can rest or be by your partner’s side if they suffer a miscarriage without having to worry about your paycheck, it removes the stress that an employee may be dealing with, apart from the trauma of losing an unborn child.

Image Credit: NewLoveTimes

The views expressed are the author’s own.