Peter A Allard School of Law

CFLS Lecture: Legislating Emotion, Reading Grief: Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage and Stillbirth in New Zealand Law

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In March 2021 the Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No 2), an Act that changes Employment Standards legislation to allow bereavement leave for people and their partners at the miscarriage of a fetus or stillbirth of a child, was passed by New Zealand’s federal parliament. This small change in law, in this small country, received huge media attention globally. Why did this act, to permit time off work to grieve, strike such a chord? The questions that the legislation and its response provokes, is read through the lenses of law and emotion literature, situated in the ways that grief has been transformed through the pandemic, and placed against other leave provisions in Canadian law. Taking up Carol Sanger’s proposition of “legislation as a mechanism of emotional influence” Professor Calder examines what this change in law helps us see about law, grief, gender, caregiving and work at this extraordinary moment.

Content warning: this talk addresses issues of pregnancy loss as well as issues of grief arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Email cfls@allard.ubc.ca to register


  • Centre for Feminist Legal Studies
  • General Audience
  • Research Talks
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