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Next steps suggested for paid parental leave

Next steps suggested for paid parental leave

Alliance Leader and architect of New Zealand’s paid parental scheme, Laila Harré is calling for a two-step extension to the scheme that will mark its first anniversary on July 1 with an increase in the full payment from $325 to $334.75 a week.

Laila Harré says the first step the government should take is extend the basic tax-funded scheme by making more mothers eligible for payment and extending the period of leave to 14 weeks in accordance with the new international standard.

“Paid parental leave is proving its worth but a number of families are still missing out on the basic scheme. I would extend the paid leave to all mothers in paid employment, not just those who have been in their jobs for 12 months at the time of the birth. I would also extend the leave to 14 weeks,” said Laila Harré.

But the Alliance wouldn’t stop there she said.

“There is still room to build on to the basic state funded scheme with an employer-funded top-up” said Laila Harré.

“We estimate that for an average of around 50 cents a week per worker, an employer levy could provide top-ups for those earning more than $334 a week, to the level of the average male wage. There is still a real problem with this scheme providing less to mothers taking time off with their babies than to blokes nursing broken legs after accidents on the rugby field.

“Such a levy could also fund greater leave for fathers and partners – giving them a separate entitlement to paid leave,” said Laila Harré.

“I am looking forward to official reports on the impact of the scheme. The anecdotal evidence is excellent and the first year should have convinced the doubters that paid parental leave benefits everyone” she said.

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