7 November 2011
Extension of Paid Parental Leave good for working women
The extension of paid parental leave to 26 weeks is great news for women, workers and communities. This is one incredibly important announcement for working women said Eileen Brown, CTU Spokesperson.
“This is a policy that has big ripple effects – all of them positive. The benefits from extending paid parental leave will be quickly felt. It will improve the health of mothers and children. It helps working mothers to breast feed up to six months of age, meeting the World Health Organisation’s recommendation. It also helps prevent premature return to the workforce on the basis of financial stress and it enables women to stay connected to the workforce but have a reasonable period of time off with their newborns.”
Most other OECD countries offer longer periods of paid parental leave than New Zealand, and many provide leave at a higher proportion of previous income. Australia offers 18 weeks, paid at a higher rate than New Zealand’s. “In fact, New Zealand should be moving to the Families Commission’s recommendation of 52 weeks plus four weeks paid leave for the partner, the internationally accepted standard, but we accept this a good first step.”
“Quite frankly the National Government had been a complete laggard on paid parental leave despite the evidence about the importance of it and the difference it makes. Since 2008 they have done the bare minimum on paid parental leave and only provided for cost of living increases each year in paid parental leave payments. After being a leader when paid parental leave was introduced in 2002 and extended in 2005 from 12 to 14 weeks, we are now lagging internationally.”
Eileen Brown said “while this policy is particularly important for mothers to allow them to take a reasonable amount of time out of paid employment, it is also good for partners of working mothers as they can take leave more easily and share in the caring responsibilities for children and families.”