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Paid Parental Leave Obstacles Could Be Removed

12 August 2003


Paid Parental Leave Obstacles Could Be Removed

The National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ) applauds the Government's stated intention before the UN CEDAW committee to improve on the present paid parental leave scheme.

The current scheme only allows for 12 weeks paid leave, which does not meet the ILO minimum standard of 14 weeks. NCWNZ has actively supported 14 weeks paid parental leave.

"NCWNZ supports paid parental leave because of the benefits it has for the baby and its family, employees, employers and society in general," said Beryl Anderson, National President. "In particular NCWNZ believes that paid parental leave is important for mothers and babies as: it allows mothers to recover from the birth without having to worry about the newborn, about loss of wages or salary, or about losing their employment; and it allows babies to develop routines and bond with the family. NCWNZ supports the premise that babies who have a good start in life have fewer problems in later life".

The UN CEDAW Committee has called on the Government to consider further amending the Parent Leave and Employment (Paid Parental Leave) Amendment Act with a view to ensuring that pregnancy under no circumstances creates an obstacle to women entering the labour market. The Committee further urged the Government to remove the specific time limit, which is required to qualify for paid parental leave and to increase the benefits level so that men are encouraged to take parental leave.

NCWNZ supports in general that:

- the self employed should be eligible for paid parental leave as long as they can provide concrete proof of complying with the definition of self employed.

- all employees should be eligible for paid parental leave regardless of hours worked, number of employers during a 12 month period, or number of jobs worked concurrently. Payment to be worked out on a pro rata basis.

- seasonal workers should be eligible if leave falls within normal working period and proof of previous employment is supplied.

- transferral of eligibility to non-eligible father on death of eligible mother.

"NCWNZ's survey (2002) of women involved in casual and part time employment showed very clearly that not only did these women have limited knowledge of their entitlements but many, even if they had the knowledge, actually did not receive their legal entitlements," said Ms Anderson. "People in these positions usually have low incomes, and are thankful to have paid work and so have little bargaining power. The survey also showed that many of these women are employed in a number of casual or part time jobs."


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