The issues

What does the 26 for Babies coalition support?

Our coalition supports the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill, which would extend paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks and enable parents to return to work for a set amount of time without losing their entitlement to paid parental leave.

Why is it important?

While most parents are entitled to unpaid parental leave for a year, the reality is that most families cannot afford to do this beyond the paid parental leave period – many are forced back to work early for financial reasons.

26 weeks or six months is the recommended time for breast-feeding from the World Health Organisation – important for babies’ health and development – and a critical time for parents to bond with their new-born children.

Research shows there are health, social, economic benefits from longer paid parental leave – it’s a financial support for families and communities, it maintains women’s participation in the labour force and it’s good for the health of mother and child.

New Zealanders’ entitlement to paid parental leave lags well behind other comparable OECD countries, which have recognised the value of supporting parents in the early years of their children’s lives.

For more good reasons, check the 26 For Babies submission to the Paid Parental Leave bill.

What is the current entitlement in New Zealand?

Paid parental leave was extended from 14 to 16 weeks in April this year, and will be extended to 18 weeks in April 2016. You can find out more on the New Zealand at Work website.

What do other countries offer?

In the UK, all female employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity (or adoption) leave, 52 weeks of which is paid, with the first six weeks paid at 90% of full pay and the remainder at a fixed rate.

Australia has 18 weeks publically funded paid parental leave and provides the federal minimum wage (currently AUS $596.78 per week) rather than a percentage of the primary caregiver’s salary.

Sweden provides generous parental leave: all working parents are entitled to 16 months paid leave per child, the cost is shared between employer and the state.

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