Job warning for 'potential parents'

Last updated 13:19 24/10/2012
Sue Moroney
LEAVE EXTENSION: The Government is considering a member’s bill by Labour MP Sue Moroney to extend paid parental leave from 14 to 26 weeks.
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"Potential parents" could find it harder to find a job if paid parental leave is extended, says an employers’ lobby group.

Business New Zealand today appeared before the government administration select committee which is considering a member’s bill by Labour MP Sue Moroney to extend paid parental leave from 14 to 26 weeks.

Its employment relations manager, Paul Mackay, said international research showed extending paid parental leave could discourage employers from hiring potential parents.

He said potential parents could include women aged anywhere from 15 to 45 and men of any age.

Moroney questioned the international research Mackay used which included the "rantings" of European Parliament MP Godfrey Bloom who was famous for saying "women didn’t clean behind the fridge enough".

Mackay also said extending paid parental leave could result in mums and dads having to be retrained because they lose their "sharp edge" by taking more time off work.

He said more research needed to be done on the indirect costs on businesses which included reorganising around absence and "human capital depreciation" which required employers to "reinvest" in parents returning to the workforce to ensure they were "up to speed".

"The uncertainty of return (to work) increases with the length of absence and that uncertainty of return is one of the largest issues that employers have to face."

Committee chair and Labour MP Ruth Dyson said parents had been able to take up to a year of unpaid leave for "some decades".

"So this makes no difference to the time they are legally allowed to be out of the paid workforce and the time that their job be held for them."

Mackay said Business NZ wanted Parliament to further examine the cost of extending paid parental after conflicting reports.

Finance Minister Bill English says it will costs $450 million over three years but Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials last week told the select committee it would cost $166m over three years.

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- The Dominion Post

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