NRL denies rejecting league pregnancy and leave policy

The NRL says it will ensure NRLW players are well-supported as they carry and care for children, rejecting claims they tried to block a new pregnancy and parental leave policy.

The NRL said it had been working with NRLW clubs and the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) since October 2022 on the new framework.

They issued a statement on Tuesday denying they had rejected the RLPA's pregnancy policy as well as private health insurance be included in the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

"The NRL has moved to provide clarity in regards to incorrect and misleading statements made on social media concerning the NRLW pregnancy and parental policy, and private health insurance," the NRL said in the statement.

"The NRL has an absolute focus on ensuring progressive and contemporary support mechanisms and playing conditions for NRLW players who are pregnant or new parents."

Among the policy inclusions drafted by the three parties are that pregnant players will have contract security and be able to move to a safe job.

The NRL will provide financial support of paid player parental cover per season and also financial support to clubs for replacement players.

They will also provide parents with both paid and unpaid support in caring for their children up to the age of 24 months.

Private health insurance for both male and female players will be funded through the salary cap, covered by a 10.5 per cent boost in the women's cap.

The game's female players remain without a CBA, which is considered a priority by the RLPA.

This year's NRLW season, which is due to expand to 10 teams, does not yet have a start date or a determined length.

The NRL said it was working to resolve this.

"The NRL and NRLW clubs have also been working to facilitate contract security and multi-year contracts to allow players longer term security," the statement said.