Call for four weeks’ leave for new dads

The Dominion Post 02/12/2009

Fathers need four weeks’ paid parental leave of their own, the Families Commission says. In a Supporting Kiwi Dads survey almost half of fathers said they were unable to take paternity leave when their children were born. And Labour Department figures show that from January to October 22,581 mothers received paid parental leave. But, only 218 had transferred leave to fathers. The Families Commission is calling for four weeks’ paid parental leave. The Government says it is not affordable.

Paid parental leave was introduced in 2002, and working mothers can now qualify for 14 weeks’ leave. Fathers are entitled to take two weeks’ unpaid leave or have the mother transfer leave to them. Last year, 26,324 mothers received paid parental leave and 239 transferred some leave. New Zealand’s paid parental leave provisions rank 23rd out of 25 developed nations in a 2008 Unicef report.

* Mothers in employment for more than six months are entitled to $429.74 a week for a maximum of 14 weeks and 38 weeks of unpaid leave.
* Father/partner entitled to two weeks of unpaid leave.
* Mothers can transfer up to 14 weeks of paid leave to the father/partner.
* Britain: Fathers get two weeks’ paid parental leave
* South Africa: Fathers get three days’ paid family leave; mothers get 4 months
* Australia: From January 2011, mothers will get 18 weeks at $543 and be able to transfer it to fathers
* Canada: Mothers get 15 weeks’ maternity leave plus 35 weeks of parental leave she can share with the father.