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Paid parental leave for 7000 mums and 32,000 dads

Media Statement


Wednesday June 19 2002

Alliance wants another 7000 mothers and 32,000 fathers to get paid parental leave

The Alliance will negotiate for paid parental leave to be extended to an additional 7000 mothers, including 2000 self-employed mothers and those who have worked less than six months for the same employer, party leader Laila Harré announced today.

Speaking at a Human Resources Forum in Wellington, Ms Harré outlined the Alliance’s priorities for improving and extending the paid parental leave scheme that comes into force on July 1.

These include:

- Extending the scheme to 14 weeks.

At the current level of payment (capped at $325 a week) this would cost an additional $7.5 million a year. This would take the total cost of the government paid parental leave scheme to $48.4 million.

The Alliance will also advocate to:

- Reduce the employment tenure requirement to six months from 12

- Increase eligibility to another 7000 mothers, including the self employed

- Requiring fewer hours a week with the same employer, down to three from 10

- Boost the level of payment to 80% of wages with a cap of the average male wage ($807), with 100% up to the current maximum of $325 a week

- Two weeks paid paternity leave for around 32,000 fathers

The total cost of the Alliance’s extension package would be about $44 million. This would bring the total cost of paid parental leave to around $86 million.

Laila Harré said the additional $44 million amounts to an employer levy of about 10 cents per $100 of payroll, or 80 cents per average wage worker per week.

“The Alliance believes that the money required to extend and improve the taxpayer-funded paid parental leave scheme should come from a centralised payroll levy. This recognises the fact that just like ACC, annual leave and sick pay, paid parental leave is an employment right, and as such its cost should be fairly distributed. The government has got the ball rolling, and now it’s time for employers to come to the party.

“The scheme that comes into force on July 1 is a great start, but with more than half of the mothers of 1 to four year olds, and a third of mothers of under one year olds in work we need to act quickly to extend this scheme to as many families as possible.

“An average of 80 cents a week isn’t much for employers to pay to help achieve that end.”

ENDS

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