Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Policy Quickie: Paid Parental Leave

The status quo:
14 weeks of paid parental leave, funded by the Government (through the IRD), and able to be split between both parents, or taken entirely by one. It's universally available, as long as the mother meets certain service requirements, and the payment is 80% of the parent's weekly wage, to a ceiling that is currently around $407 (gross) a week. The Employment Relations Service has more information on the scheme.

Originally put forward by the Alliance, it was first introduced in 2002 by the Labour-Alliance coalition government, and was at that time 12 weeks paid parental leave. It was extended to 14 weeks in 2005 by the Labour-led coalition government, with support from other parties such as the Progressives and the Greens. During its existence there have also been tweaks to increase the ceiling, and widen eligibility (most notably to the self-employed in 2006).

Party positions for the 2008 Election:
Act: Policy isn't explicit, but intends to repeal minimum wage laws and "Replace all other regulations affecting employment with common law remedies."

Alliance: "...workers who become primary caregivers should get 12 months’ paid parental leave and their partners should get two weeks’ paid parental leave."

Family: (could not find any mention on website)

Greens: "Extend the period of paid parental leave to 13 months and increase the level of payments to 100% of the average male wage."

(could not find any mention on website)

Labour: No intention to change the scheme. Had hoped to make an election promise around expanding it, however have shelved it due to the collapse of global capitalism.

Libertarianz: "We will abolish the regulations, Departments, Commissions and Ministries, statutes and tax codes that hinder rather than help economic growth." Assumedly this includes minimum employment rights like paid parental leave?

Maori Party: No explicit policy, however Hone Harawira has raised extending it to 12 months in the past.

(could not find any policy mention on website)

NZ First: (could not find any mention in the policy document)

Progressives: (no mention of intention to change, however note involvement in the scheme's adoption and extension to self-employed)

RAM: "Extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks and increase the payments."

UnitedFuture: "Extend paid and unpaid parental leave to both parents... Recognise the imperative for fathers to bond with their newborns by an extension of parental leave."


The Families Commission has called for 13 months' paid parental leave by 2015, including a month's paid leave for fathers.

A full index of our policy quickie posts to date can be found here.


Tui said...

Re: month's paid leave for fathers, should that be rather a month's paid leave for *the second parent* - i.e., one parent gets 13 months leave, one parent gets 1 month leave, regardless of gender? Calling it "fathers' leave" seems to imply that a) lesbian second parents are SOL! and b) women who choose not to be SAHMs don't get that leave. I presume this is not the case?!

Julie said...

Hey Tui, I agree (gee, it's like we have a hive mind!), I've just repeated what the individual parties (and the Families Commission) have said. I was careful to put parents in the status quo explanation at the start, for just the reason you mention. And certainly it is possible to share PPL between two same-sex parents at the moment, although I'm not quite sure how the eligibility thing works for adoption, as it is usually based on the eligibility of the pregnant one.

However it is worth noting that those who choose to be SAHMs may not be eligible. If you resign before you take your leave you are not taking leave, so you're generally ineligible (I'm about 95% sure that's right). And if you weren't working in the first place then there's nothing to take leave from, and thus no paid parental leave for anyone.

Tui said...

I've just repeated what the individual parties (and the Families Commission) have said.

Right - I would have thought that a gvt. institution like the FC would have been more circumspect in its policy writing! Obviously my expectations are high.

Julie said...

Yeah you'd think the FC would be a bit more right on, given that they are allegedly a hot bed of nanny statist feminazis. I guess they didn't get that memo ;-)