Media Release 13 March 2013
A nationwide poll of New Zealanders commissioned by Family First NZ has found strong support for paid paternal leave of two weeks for fathers, but a split in support for expanding paid parental leave for mothers to 26 weeks.
In the poll of 1,000 NZ’ers by Curia Market Research, respondents were asked “A bill before Parliament is asking for paid parental leave to be raised from the current 14 weeks to 26 weeks. It is estimated this would cost the Government an extra $145 million a year to fund. Do you think paid parental leave should stay at 14 weeks or be extended to 26 weeks?”
A majority of 51% support paid parental leave staying at 14 weeks, with 44% favouring an increase to 26 weeks. Women narrowly prefer an extension to 26 weeks, while men are against. Those aged under 40 are also more in favour of an extension. National supporters are more likely to oppose an increase while Labour voters support the increase.
Respondents were also asked “Would you support or oppose a proposal to provide Government paid parental leave of 2 weeks to fathers as well as mothers. It is estimated to cost around $20 million a year.”
68% support this proposal with 28% opposing. Interestingly, there was slightly stronger support from women. Both National and Labour voters are more likely to support this proposal.
A 2008 report by UNICEF rated New Zealand 23rd out of 25 countries for effective paid parental leave. Kiwi parents get 14 weeks paid parental leave while the average in the rest of the developed world is approaching one year. In 2009, the Families Commission called for an extension of paid parental leave to at least 12 months.
“Family First is supporting the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave) Amendment Bill as it values mothers and parenting in general. Families should not be pressured to return to work simply because of financial concerns,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“A recent Department of Labour evaluation of paid parent leave showed that only a quarter 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.”
Family First has called for the Bill to be amended to allow up to 2 weeks – rising to 4 weeks – paid parental leave for fathers. Fathers get two weeks paid parental leave in Britain, and Australia has just established Dad and Partner Pay (DAPP).
“Research is now showing us that it is important that fathers be actively involved with their children. It shows us that fathers are not an optional extra. In fact fathers are fundamental to children’s healthy development as their involvement can improve the health, emotional well-being and educational achievement of their children,” says Mr McCoskrie.
The nationwide poll was carried out during February and has a margin of error of +/- 3.2%.