28 Jan 2014

Govt may extend paid parental leave

10:11 pm on 28 January 2014

The Government says it may extend paid parental leave, but could still veto a Labour Party MP's bill to extend the entitlement from to 26 weeks.

Labour says the Government is just playing politics with parents.

Eligible parents are entitled to 14 weeks' paid parental leave at present. Labour's bill to extend that to 26 weeks is being considered by a parliamentary select committee.

The National Government had threatened to use its financial veto to stop the legislation, but at the end of 2013 it asked for the report back of the bill to be delayed while it reconsidered its position.

Finance Minister Bill English said on Tuesday that, in those discussions, the Government said it was interested in finding a way forward.

"Now that doesn't mean we're committed to getting agreement - it just means we'll have a look at the issues because we've got an interest in extension of paid parental leave. But we'd be balancing those discussions up with what we believe is a more effective way of reaching the most vulnerable children."

Prime Minister John Key said the Government would not support a 26-week extension, but may consider some extension.

The sponsor of the legislation, Labour's Sue Moroney, said on Tuesday she is disappointed at the Government's approach.

"What they told me was that if they had any proposals on paid parental leave, that it would be coming through my bill in my name. I took them at their word on that and I think if they were wanting to do the right thing by the New Zealand public, that's in fact what they would continue to do."

However, Ms Moroney said she would support any move to extend paid parental leave - even if it is a Government initiative.

Her bill is due to be reported back to Parliament at the end of February.