Government adopts parental leave amendment

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Employees on parental leave who want to keep in touch with work or drop into the office for a few hours now have more freedom to do so after the government adopted a new amendment.

Put forward by National MP Sarah Dowie, the amendment to the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill boosts the number of hours that parents on Parental Leave can return to work without forfeiting their entitlement.

"Extending the number of keeping-in-touch days is great for parents and means that they can maintain the balance between time off to care for baby and the connection with their workplace, without worrying about losing their leave entitlements," said Dowie.

The amendment extends the number of keeping-in-touch days commensurate to the extension of Paid Parental Leave. A parent will not be treated as having returned to work if they perform 52 (up from 40) hours or fewer of paid work during their leave period.

This takes effect when the leave is increased from 18 to 22 weeks on 1 July 2018. It will then extend to 64 hours when the leave is further increased from 22 to 26 weeks on 1 July 2020.

"Many parents like to be able to pop into work from time to time while they’re on leave with their little one so it makes sense to ensure that if we extend the parental leave period we also extend the number of keeping-in-touch days," said Dowie.

While Dowie was pleased the government accepted this amendment, she admitted she was disappointed it had rejected other proposals to allow both parents to take time off simultaneously.


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