NRL denies rejecting league pregnancy and leave policy

The NRL has issued a statement saying it has been working on a NRLW pregnancy policy since last October, denying reports it had rejected a proposal by the RLPA.

The NRL and Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) are continuing to spar over the collective bargaining agreement and the inclusion of a pregnancy and parental leave policy.

After reports they had tried to block a new policy, the NRL issued a statement on Tuesday rejecting such claims and saying they had been working with NRLW clubs and the RLPA since October 2022 on the new framework.

"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."

However the RLPA put out their own statement later on Tuesday disputing the NRL's timeline, saying the governing body did not want the policy to be part of the CBA.

"The NRL would only consult with the RLPA on the development of the policy - no such policy was included in the NRL's most recent CBA proposal for review," the RLPA said.

"The RLPA has again reiterated the need for this fundamental policy to be agreed and form part of the NRLW CBA."

The NRL says the new policy ensures pregnant players had contract security and were able to move to a safe job.

Among the inclusions, 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.