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Paid parental leave should be for foster parents

March 17, 2006

Paid parental leave should apply to parents involved in whaangai adoptions

Paid parental leave should not only be extended to self-employed people; it should also include foster parents who become long-term carers of children under 12 months and parents involved in whaangai adoptions.

This was the basis of an oral submission by the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) yesterday to the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee on the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Paid Parental Leave for Self-Employed Persons) Amendment Bill.

"Whaangai adoption should be recognised and acknowledged as a long-standing and continuing tradition within Maori communities, iwi and families," said NZNO policy analyst Angela Wallace. "Paid parental leave benefits and options open to Pakeha adoptions should be accorded to whaangai adoptions."

Narrowing paid parental leave to birth and adoptive parents did not take into account the complexity of many New Zealand families, Wallace said. Workers who take on parental responsibilities, either through birthing, adoption or long-term foster care, should be treated equitably as parents and therefore entitled to paid parental leave.

In its submission, NZNO recommends the Department of Labour discuss appropriate eligibility for paid parental leave in families that include whaangai adoption with iwi and Maori authorities. Pacific communities could also be entitled to paid parental leave on a similar basis, as cultural adoptions are widely practised and already recognised in immigration policies, Wallace said.

In accordance with International Council of Nurses' policy, NZNO also supports the right of employed women to have paid breast-feeding breaks. "Working women could be given two 20-minute paid or unpaid breaks to breast-feed their child, either in the workplace or at a home or care facility," Wallace said.


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