28 Nov 2017

Govt to legislate for shared paid parental leave

8:42 am on 28 November 2017

The government will introduce legislation allowing parents to split paid parental leave.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. Photo: VNP / Daniela Maoate-Cox

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said it would be introduced in employment legislation, possibly early next year.

Labour has introduced a bill to lift paid leave from the current 18 weeks to 22 weeks from July next year and 26 weeks from July 2020.

National's workplace relations spokesperson Amy Adams is putting forward a member's bill today which would allow both parents to take the leave at the same time.

Ms Adams said she'd heard no good reasons against doing it.

"It doesn't cost any more, it doesn't extend the entitlement - it really is just a matter of choice."

Amy Adams

National's workplace relations spokesperson Amy Adams Photo: RNZ/Rebekah Parsons-King

Mr Lees-Galloway told Morning Report the government wouldn't pick up Ms Adams' bill because it was flawed and wouldn't achieve what she intended.

He said it was very similar to an amendment Ms Adams brought during the committee stages of the government bill.

"My officials described that as fundamentally flawed."

The government will instead put the issue into an employment bill being introduced to the House next year, possibly at the end of January.

"We still get to go to select committee, we still get to consider the issue ... we can just take our time to get the drafting right.

"We are looking at options, and we will take a sharing option of some kind to Parliament probably early next year."

Lees-Galloway said the point of extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks was that the World Health Organisation recommend that as the period a mother should exclusively breastfeed if they're able to.

"If we share the entire allocation, what you're effectively doing is saying baby has time with their parent for 13 weeks." However there should be flexibility for parents, he said, especially in the first few weeks of the baby's life.

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