Thursday, July 10, 2014

Winning the argument on paid parental leave

When paid parental leave was introduced back in 2002, National opposed it, calling it "middle-class welfare", "feminist ideology" which excluded males, and "discriminatory". How times have changed. In the Budget, National were forced to promise to extend paid parental leave to 18 weeks. And now, they've been forced to promise greater flexibility as well:

“The proposals outlined in the discussion document Modernising parental leave: Changes to allow greater access and increased flexibility will ensure New Zealand’s parental leave framework better reflects New Zealanders’ wide range of family and work arrangements,” Mr Bridges says.

Key proposals in the discussion document are:
  • Extending the eligibility of paid parental leave to include primary carers other than parents
  • Extending payments to people in less-regular work or who recently changed jobs
  • Enabling employees to take unpaid parental leave part time and flexibly
“Introducing more flexibility into parental leave legislation will support primary carers who wish to remain active in the workforce without losing their entitlements,” Mr Bridges says.
They've also been forced to extend unpaid parental leave to employees who have been with an employer for six months (rather than 12). These are all good changes, and I welcome them. At the same time, they're not enough. Our paid parental leave scheme is one of the least generous in the world. Its time we fixed that properly.