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Paid parental leave’s first anniversary

1 July 2003 Media Statement

Paid parental leave’s first anniversary

Paid parental leave is a year old today, and the increase in the maximum weekly payment from $325 to $334.75 comes into effect with the anniversary.

The maximum rate is adjusted each year to reflect any increase in average weekly earnings, as determined by the Quarterly Employment Survey. The percentage movement for this year has been three per cent.

Labour Minister Margaret Wilson said over 18,000 people have successfully applied for paid parental leave in the past year and more than $54 million has been paid out.

“About 3900 people are receiving payments at any given time,” she said. “Ninety-eight per cent of these parents are taking the full 12 weeks of payment so they can remain at home with their babies.”

Margaret Wilson said initial findings from an evaluation of the scheme found that parents consider it to have been highly beneficial to them. As well as having more money available to cover bills, it has enabled some new mothers to stay home longer with their babies.

The evaluation also found that more than a third of employers noted positive impacts on their business, especially enhanced staff satisfaction and improved likelihood or retaining experienced staff. Only 10 per cent of employers had negative reactions.

Now the scheme has been in operation for 12 months, the Department of Labour will carry out a comprehensive review, Margaret Wilson said.

“The review will look at extending the eligibility for parental leave to cover those employees who have had more than one employer in the preceding 12 months. It will also evaluate the possibility of extending eligibility for parental leave to the self-employed, and extending the payment to 14 weeks. But any extension of the scheme will depend on available resources.”
Margaret Wilson said there will be wide consultation with stakeholders including Business New Zealand, the Council of Trade Unions, the National Council on the Employment of Women, the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, the Maori Women’s Welfare League, the New Zealand Federation of Business and Professional Women, the College of Midwives and the Parents Centres NZ.

“Other organisations or individuals who want to make comment on their experience of the scheme or on the proposals to enhance it should contact Michael Hobby of the Department of Labour, telephone (04) 915 4510 or email michael.hobby@ers.dol.govt.nz


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