Should parents take parental leave together?

New member's bill promises more flexible arrangements

Should parents take parental leave together?

Kiwi parents could have more choice and flexibility with their parental leave arrangements under a new member’s bill, according to Nicolas Willis, National List MP based in Wellington.

The bill would amend the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987. It would ensure that paid parental leave can be split between spouses or partners who are caring for the child and taken at the same time — provided that the total paid parental leave taken by the couple does not exceed the maximum provided for a single primary carer.

For example, a woman eligible for 26 weeks could take 20 weeks while transferring six weeks of her entitlement to her partner who could take six weeks: at the same time, after the 20 weeks, or overlapping with the 20 weeks.

“This is a simple legislative change that will result in a more supportive environment for new mums and dads, and give them the freedom to choose what is best for their family,” said Willis.

“National wants to free up parents to make the choices that suit them in their circumstances. The government should not get in the way of what parents know is best for them and their new child.”

The amendments are designed to increase the flexibility of arrangements available to families, according to the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Shared Leave) Amendment Bill, and because they do not increase the total paid parental leave available to a family unit, they will not raise the operating costs of providing paid parental leave.

“Whether you’re a new parent wanting to support mum in the first few weeks of birth, or whether you simply want to spend time with your new baby together, this bill enables those choices to be made,” said Willis.

Currently, an employee or their partner may be eligible for a parental leave payment for up to 18 weeks. In addition, they may be entitled to unpaid parental leave if they have worked for the same employer for an average of 10 hours a week for at least 6 months. Employees who have worked for the employer for at least 12 months or more have increased entitlements.

Parental leave benefits are getting a boost from employers across New Zealand as HR teams explore every pathway to attract and retain talent in a tight labour market.

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