More parental leave likely

Last updated 23:26 09/03/2008

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The Government looks set to announce an increase in paid parental leave ahead of this year's election.

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Labour Minister Trevor Mallard have confirmed it is under review, saying on Saturday the "milestone" policy was now helping more than 100,000 parents.

Clark and Mallard chose International Women's Day to announce the take-up figures.

"New Zealand's workforce is ageing and we have ongoing skill shortages," they said in a joint statement.

"An increasing number of women are in the workforce ... paid parental leave has become a very important part of the range of policies the Labour Government has introduced to support families."

Paid parental leave was introduced in 2002, and extended from the scheme's original 12 weeks to 14 in 2005.

In 2004 employees who had six months service or more with the same employer were included, and in 2006 self-employed parents were included.

In August last year the Families Commission, backed by trade unions, called for an extension.

In November, Women's Affairs Minister Steve Chadwick said it was necessary.

"If we have got 14 weeks paid parental leave tracking up over time, that's what we'd like to commit to," she said.

At present the scheme provides 14 weeks paid leave, one to two weeks unpaid paternity leave and 38 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave. 



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