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Self-employed next in line for paid parental leave

Self-employed next in line for paid parental leave


The next step for the government will be to extend paid parental leave to self-employed women, Associate Labour Minister Ruth Dyson said today.

“Self-employed women make up a significant proportion of working parents. They have the same needs as other working women to combine their work commitments with child bearing and rearing. The government is keen to see the paid parental leave scheme extended to include this group, and policy work is continuing in this area.”

Legislation passed yesterday expanded the provisions of the paid parental leave scheme introduced in 2002. The key changes in the Paid Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill are: a progressive increase in the duration of payments from 12 to 14 weeks by 1 December 2005; a new entitlement for paid leave where mothers have worked for the same employer for 10 or more hours a week for the last six months – down from the last 12 months; a new entitlement to one week’s unpaid partner’s/paternity leave for employees who have worked for the same employer for 10 hours or more a week for the last six months.

Ruth Dyson said the changes showed the government’s ongoing support for working parents, and its commitment to fairness and security for all New Zealanders.

“Around 16,000 women took paid parental leave under the scheme last year, and a further 3,400 women are expected to benefit from the latest changes.

“Independent research commissioned by the Department of Labour shows that the scheme’s impact on business has been predominantly positive or neutral. Mothers also said the scheme had positive benefits. It provides job security, relieves the financial burden during the first weeks of a new baby’s life, and improves the well-being of both mother and child, which benefits the whole family.” The law change applies to eligible parents taking leave from their jobs to care for babies due or born or adopted from 1 December 2004.

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Eligible women will receive a maximum payment of $346.63 gross per week for 13 weeks from 1 December 2004, rising to 14 weeks from 1 December 2005.

Payment and leave can be shared between eligible partners, including those in same-sex relationships. However, less than one per cent of mothers have transferred their paid leave to their spouses or partners to date.

The existing criteria for unpaid extended leave of up to 52 weeks remains the same.

Ruth Dyson urged all eligible women to apply for leave.

“Our government is committed to making the workplace more attuned to women’s and families’ needs, and we will continue to develop family-friendly attitudes, laws and entitlements.”

Further information about the latest changes, including an on-line calculator to work out individual entitlements to paid parental leave, will be available at www.ers.dol.govt.nz from Friday, 5 November 2004; or by phoning the Department of Labour, freephone 0800 800 863.

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