11 Dec 2019

Bereavement leave for miscarriage bill passes first reading

From The House , 6:55 pm on 11 December 2019

A bill clarifying bereavement leave to include a miscarriage or still birth has passed its first reading at Parliament.

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Labour MP Ginny Anderson Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

The Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill is a Member's Bill in the name of Labour MP Ginny Anderson.

Currently employees are entitled to three days bereavement leave on the death of a child but there is a lack of clarity around whether a foetus is covered by the word child.

Anderson said the lack of clarity can lead to disputes between employers and employees with some people having to use other types of leave instead.

"My bill proposes a simple change that allows existing bereavement leave to be automatically made available for those who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth," she said.

"This leave would be made available to both the mother and her partner, as both parents are affected."

National MP Nikki Kaye

National MP Nikki Kaye Photo: ©VNP / Phil Smith

The Bill has support from all parties with National Party MP Nikki Kaye saying they understand the trauma that results from a miscarriage.

"There's increasing research that demonstrates that for a number of women, there's post-traumatic stress disorder as a result," she told the House.

"And also there are physical impacts that occur often for many women when they have a miscarriage. So from our perspective, this is absolutely the right thing to do."

After a first reading a bill usually goes to a select committee which invites the public to share its view on the bill.

Anderson invited anyone who wants to voice their opinion to make a submission to the Education and Workforce Select Committee.

"I think it's incredibly important for all of those who have already written to me, whether they be organisations or individuals, to be aware that over the holidays period, we hope that the submissions period will be open," she said. 

"I wholeheartedly encourage any person or organisation in New Zealand with an interest in this area to make sure that your voice is heard. It's yet another opportunity in our great democratic system for your voices to contribute to how legislation is formed and takes shape, and I encourage everybody to take that opportunity up."

Members' bills

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The biscuit tin from which Members' bills are drawn Photo: Supplied / Office of the Clerk

A member's bill is legislation proposed by an MP who is not a Minister and they require a bit of luck to be debated.


Each member's bill is assigned a number which are put into a (literal) biscuit tin to be drawn out at random, like Lotto.


These bills are normally debated every alternate Wednesday in the House meaning they can take much longer than a Government bill to be passed.


Next Wednesday should be a Members' Day but as the year draws to a close the Government wants to make sure it gets as much done as possible so they turned Wednesday morning this week into a Members’ Day instead.


Normally on a Wednesday morning MPs would be on select committees considering petitions, bills, and hearing from officials. But the Government extended Tuesday's sitting into Wednesday morning so that the final Parliamentary Wednesday for the year (Dec 18th) could be used for the adjournment debate.