2 Dec 2009

Govt won't give fathers paid parental leave

5:16 pm on 2 December 2009

Minister of Labour Kate Wilkinson has dismissed a recommendation from the Families Commission to give paid parental leave to fathers.

The Families Commission believes fathers should be given four weeks of paid parental leave to allow them to spend more time with their children.

But Ms Wilkinson says such a move is not on the Government's agenda.

At present, fathers are entitled to two weeks of unpaid leave following the birth of their child; the mother can transfer up to 14 weeks of her paid parental leave to her partner.

Supporting Kiwi Dads, a Families Commission survey examining the role and needs of 1743 fathers, showed that nearly half were unable to take any parental leave.

Commissioner Gregory Fortuin says the initial bonding phase between parents and children is crucial for the child's development.

He says work is the main barrier to fathers spending more time with their children, which illustrates the need for a flexible workplace.

Mr Fortuin says giving fathers four weeks paid leave would help them support the mother and bond with their child.

But Ms Wilkinson says that would cost the government an extra $37 million.

"What they're also suggesting is that the taxpayer should pay for an extra four weeks paid parental leave on top of the 14 weeks that they already pay.

"I'd have to say we don't have an open-ended cheque book, neither does the taxpayer, and that's not on the agenda."