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Budget 2005: Paid parental leave to self-employed

24 April 2005 Media Statement
Budget 2005

Paid parental leave to be extended to self-employed

Legislation to extend New Zealand’s paid parental leave scheme to the self-employed will be introduced to Parliament this year, Associate Labour Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

The Labour-Progressive Government introduced paid parental leave for the first time in New Zealand in 2002. Since that time 45,000 people have accessed the scheme. The scheme was extended last year to more parents and the duration of the payment period was increased from 12 weeks to 13 weeks and will be extended again to 14 weeks in December this year.

“The Prime Minister made it clear in her speech at the start of the Parliamentary year that extending the scheme to self-employed was a priority. I am delighted that this work has now been completed, and legislation can be introduced,” Ruth Dyson said.

“Improvements to the paid parental leave scheme in Budget 2005 will help working parents and will make New Zealand a fairer and more inclusive society.”

The legislation will be introduced this year and, when passed, is aimed to come into force from 1 July 2006.

Fourteen weeks paid parental leave will be available to self-employed mothers who have been working an average of 10 hours per week during the six months before the birth or date of adoption of a child (with the same right to transfer to their partners as applies for employees.)

Payment would be at a rate equal to their average weekly income, up to a maximum consistent with that applying to employees (currently $346.63 per week.).

Self-employed people who make a loss or earn less than the minimum wage for a minimum of 10 hours per week (currently $95 per week) would be entitled to parental leave payments at a flat rate equivalent to 10 hours per week paid at the rate of the minimum wage.

Ruth Dyson said it was estimated that 2173 self-employed people would take paid parental leave each year.

“A full evaluation of the parental leave scheme and the experiences of women, including those currently not eligible for parental leave, their partners and employers will be carried out this year.

“This is a significant step in extending our paid parental leave scheme, giving practical, financial help to new mothers and enabling them to have income immediately following the birth or adoption of their baby, and giving them greater choice about when to return to paid work,” Ruth Dyson said.

ENDS

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