Paid parental leave increased to 26 weeks as Government bill passes

Stuff co.nz 30 November 2017
Family First Comment: Putting families with babies first! 😊

Parliament has passed the Government’s paid parental leave bill, extending leave to 26 weeks by 2020.

The extension phases in incrementally, with parents of babies due on or after July 1, 2018 eligible for 22 weeks of paid leave, up from 18 weeks. From July 1, 2020, that will increase to 26 weeks.

Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said it was “vital for supporting working families with newborns and young children and for New Zealand to catch up with the best international practice”.

“The Government is committed to giving children the best start in life and longer paid parental leave is just the first step in that direction,” he said.

New Zealand’s paid parental leave entitlement of 18 weeks was one of the lowest in the OECD, with the average number of weeks of paid leave to mothers among OECD countries being 48 weeks.

“This move is great news for babies, parents and families. It will provide greater financial certainty and confidence for working families.

“World Health Organisation guidelines stress the importance of the first six months for babies to breastfeed and bond with parents. The evidence is clear that these six months are crucial for infant development,” Lees-Galloway said.

The Government allowed the passage of an amendment to its bill put forward by National backbencher Sara Dowie, however it blocked a more high-profile amendment that would have allowed both parents to take leave at the same time.

Dowie’s amendment extended what’s called “keeping in touch” hours – limited hours parents were allowed to work without losing their paid parental leave entitlements.
READ MORE: https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/99418622/paid-parental-leave-increased-to-26-weeks-as-government-bill-passes

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