Nearly half of all children are born to families who are refused access to paid parental leave, the Children's Commissioner says.
The Commissioner's principal adviser Donna Provoost said this morning at a select committee hearing that about 30,000 children born last year were not covered by paid parental leave.
Restrictions on parental leave were too strict, excluding parents who were in casual or unpaid work in the six months prior to the babies' birth and this disproportionally affected low income families and significantly incresased the risk of poverty for the children, she said.
"Extended paid parental leave will be fabulous for those who receive it ... but the poorest children miss out," she said.
Miss Provoost was making a submission to the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment Bill which would extend leave for parents from 14 to 28 weeks.
The private member bill from Labour MP Sue Moroney has already been shot down by the Government, which has called it too costly and threatened to use rare veto powers to block it if necessary.
Most other submitters supported the bill, claiming it would improve outcomes for children and womens' participation in the workforce.
But Paul Clark, who owns the New Zealand Ammunition Company, opposed the bill, saying it would put extra pressure on small businesses and that people should only be having children if they could afford it.
"Having a family is a choice - almost like buying a luxury car," he said.
Labour says its would bring in 12 months' paid parental leave if it were elected.
- The Dominion Post
Where do you stand on political coat-tail riding?Related story: Voters reject riding on the coat-tails