22 July 2004
Paid Parental Leave Still Off-Limits to Many
The door to paid parental leave was still closed to many low-income families who needed support, Council of Trade Unions secretary Carol Beaumont said today.
Presenting the CTU submission on the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill, Carol Beaumont told MPs that the eligibility criteria for the scheme needed to be widened.
Improvements to paid parental leave announced earlier this year were welcomed and would allow more women workers to take time off to look after a new baby, but many still missed out, she said.
“The scheme still unfairly excludes women in part-time jobs that are for less than 10 hours a week, and seasonal, short-term or casual workers who don’t work continuously for six months for the same employer before the birth.”
The CTU also pushed for an increase in the level of payment as the vast majority of workers faced a drop in income when they went on parental leave.
The Pay and Employment Equity Taskforce identified paid parental leave as an employment equity issue, Carol Beaumont said.
“It’s time for employers in the public service and public health and education sectors to lead the way and comply with the ILO’s maternity leave convention - which would see eligibility widened and payments increase.”
The CTU also called for a legislated right to paid breastfeeding breaks and access to breastfeeding facilities upon return to work.