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Parents Centre on Paid Parental Leave review

Paid Parent Leave review provides an opportunity to address equity issues.

1 July 2003

"The Paid Parental Leave Act only recognises those parents who are already part of the economic equation," said Parents Centre CEO, Viv Gurrey. "The current focus is too narrow, and in so being further entrenches social inequities."

Parents Centre would like to see the Act enhanced to included the following groups: -

· Self-employed workers,

· Workers who have had more than one employer during the past year,

· Seasonal workers

· Those who have day-to-day care of the child, and who may not be the birth mother, including nominated guardians such as family/whanau and adoptive parents.

"Parents Centre would rather see the PPL scheme extend its coverage to include the groups listed above before increasing the current maximum weekly entitlement of $325 per week," Mrs Gurrey said.

"The increase of $9 to the maximum entitlement earlier this year, was a token gesture which failed to acknowledge the reality of the many parents who are not yet eligible."

"As a general rule, income in the year prior to taking leave should be considered in calculating entitlement," said Mrs Gurrey, "This would also mean the minimum 10-hours per week requisite (as currently stated) be removed, in acknowledging that family income is often dependent on a range of sources"

Parents Centre would also like PPL to be increased from 12 to 14 weeks based on ILO convention on maternity protection.

"Flexibility is the key to the scheme's success," said Mrs Gurrey "Rigid rules that dictate when women should leave and when they should return to work are not helpful. In acknowledging this the PPL scheme needs to incorporate the opportunity to work part-time, and/or work from home as agreed by employer and employee. In these cases PPL should be paid at 14 weeks on a pro rata basis, e.g. 28 weeks part-time or any other combination which accommodates the health and welfare of mother and child," Mrs Gurrey added.

"Every family should have the opportunity to address it's own needs following the birth of a child. If a decision is made for the mother to return to work, the father should have a right to take PPL and assume the role of primary care-giver," said Mrs Gurrey.

And finally, Parents Centre would like the Act to include the provision of breast-feeding breaks and facilities consistent with ILO Convention 183, Maternity Protection, with a view to encouraging mothers to breastfeed their babies when they return to work, and to specifically encourage breastfeeding for at least the first year - as outlined in the Ministry of Health's breastfeeding strategy, Breastfeeding: a guide to action.

Contact: Viv Gurrey 04 560-1990

Judith Stanley-Dyer * Public Relations Manager * Parents Centre New Zealand * PO Box 30145 * Lower Hutt *

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