Parents win 26 weeks' leave with new babies

By Te Ao - Māori News

As of today, working parents can now receive up to 26 weeks of paid parental leave.

The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions says ensuring babies have time at home with their primary caregivers was the goal of its '26 for Babies' campaign. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern addressed parents at the Beehive this morning saying "I'm so pleased that I know you'll have something that other women did not have and that is 26 weeks for them and their babies."

CTU Secretary Melissa Ansell-Bridges said the campaign has been successful "because of the amazing work, and compelling arguments, of organisations, including unions, who worked together through the ’26 for Babies’ coalition.

"The campaign succeeded in ensuring that politicians had to take action," she said.

"26 weeks paid parental leave is a win for working women."

More campaigning ahead

But the CTU wants the government to make more changes in this area including the level of payment, partners' leave, more takeup of paid parental leave and a review pf the scheme and act.

"From July 1 the maximum weekly payment is $606.46, before tax. These rates are low by international standards and need to increase," Ansell-Bridges said.

The CTU wanted to see the introduction of a month paid leave for partners. "Currently partners either need to use annual leave or take unpaid time off when a baby is born." 

She said based on the birth rates and the numbers of people taking paid parental leave, a significant number of New Zealanders were not taking the parental leave that they were entitled to. "More work needs to be done to ensure working people are aware of their entitlements, how to access paid parental leave and that the barriers to accessing paid parental leave are removed." 

Ansell-Bridges said there hasn’t been a review of the scheme or act for 15 years. "We need to ensure our parental leave scheme and act are current and meet the needs of babies, pregnant women, parents, families living in 2020 and beyond."