Parental Leave Priority For Both Parents

Family First NZ is welcoming a call by the Families Commission to extend paid parental leave to fathers but is also calling for paid parental leave for mothers to be at least 12 months.

“The role of parents during the crucial early years of a child should be acknowledged. Families should not be pressured to return to work simply because of financial concerns. The Parental Leave scheme and other family tax breaks should support and strengthen families with young children.”

“A recent Department of Labour evaluation showed that only ¼ of mothers thought the paid parental leave was long enough, and up to 75% said ideally they would take a year off. Yet the average time at which mothers return to work is when their baby is six months old. Only 14 weeks of that is paid.”

“While the 14 week paid parental leave lessened money worries, it didn’t provide financial security, and ‘financial pressure’ was cited as a key reason for returning to work earlier than desired.”

“The Ministry of Health recommends at least six months exclusive breastfeeding and a key objective of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 is improved health outcomes for both mother and child with a mother being able to recover from childbirth, bond with a new baby, and return to work without negative consequences to her health and that of her child.”

“To expect a mother to achieve all that in the current 14 weeks allowance is farcical, and many fathers want to participate in the adjustment to families with the addition of a baby,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“Research by the Ministry of Social Development last year found that 1/3’rd of all working couples were unhappy they both have to work. And only 43% of kiwi mums with children under 3 are in some form of paid work.”

“At the moment, the scheme is falling well short of parental needs.”
ENDS