Parental-leave payrise comes under attack

The Southland Times 09 June 2008

New Zealand’s paid parental leave payments will increase on July 1 but southern parents, welfare agencies, and support services believe extra money is not the only thing needed to make the system work.
Labour Minister Trevor Mallard announced last week that the maximum parental leave payment would increase from $391.28 to $407.36 a week from July 1. Also increasing would be the minimum parental leave payment for self-employed people, which would rise from $112.50 to $120 a week. “Paid parental leave assists new parents at a critical time. It’s important for new parents to have the time and financial support to care for a new baby, and paid parental leave allows them to do that while protecting their jobs,” Mr Mallard said. However, the announcement has come under fire from some parents, support agencies, and welfare groups who say the increase is not enough to meet the needs of most families, and the length of time the payments are made is also not long enough.

…”It is great for those that are able to get it but I think there’s a section of the population of mothers that missed out because they are not working enough hours each week to qualify,” she said. Included in that group were women who were working part-time, or the likes of teachers who, like her, worked on a casual or relief basis, rather than in permanent full-time positions, she said.