This week working parents are eligible for 18 weeks’ paid parental leave after the government’s new Employment Standards Legislation Bill came into force on Friday.
TEU vice-president Cat Pausé says the extension of parental leave is important, not just because families will have an extra four weeks to spend with their babies, but also because more families will be eligible.
The new law means parental leave payments will also be available to primary carers, other than biological or adoptive parents, who take permanent primary responsibility for the care of a child who is under the age of six years.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) says this could include, for example, a grandparent who will be raising the grandchild in place of the parents.
Paid parental leave payment will also be available for the first time for people who have worked for any employer for any 26 of the 52 weeks before becoming the primary carer to a child.
Therefore casual and seasonal workers, people with more than one employer and people who have recently changed jobs will all be eligible for paid parental leave.
Pausé says TEU and other unions have lobbied hard publicly and behind the scenes so that more parents can spend more time with their babies.
“This is a big improvement for many working mums and dads who want to be with their babies in their first few weeks of life.”
However Pausé also says the 18 weeks of paid parental leave falls far short of the 26 weeks that experts argue give the best foundation for New Zealand children.