Parental leave debate continues

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A parliamentary committee has failed to come to an agreement on whether the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave) Amendment Bill should be passed.

The bill would see paid parental leave rise from the current 14 weeks to 26 weeks in staged increases.

In a report by the select committee it states that while the three National MPs and three Opposition MPs “recognise that the proposals in this bill offer benefits, we also acknowledge that they have financial implications” which lead to a stalemate between them.

The committee received 3,809 submissions on the bill of which 99.6% were in support of it.

Despite the impasse it is thought that there is enough support for the bill to be passed in government at its next reading, but National has signalled it is likely to use its financial veto to stop the bill from going ahead.

Prime Minister John Key has indicated that there will be an increase in parental leave in the May Budget, but it will not go as far as 26 weeks.

"We're working our way through it, in terms of Budget bids. Twenty-six weeks is not affordable, but we do think some extension might be," he told The New Zealand Herald.

In the OECD New Zealand ranks just above the US for parental leave which offers “family and medical leave” of 12 weeks which is often unpaid. The most generous countries in the world include Slovakia where three years of state assistance is given and in Sweden employees get up to 16 months’ paid leave. In England parents are entitled up to a year off, with 39 weeks paid and Australia offers 18 weeks paid but are looking to increase that to 26 weeks.

Do you agree New Zealand should increase paid parental leave? Take part in our poll here and share your thoughts below.

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