No deal over paid parental leave

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 16:57 28/02/2014

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Labour is accusing the Government of using delay tactics after an attempt to strike a compromise over paid parental leave failed.

Today the Government Administration Committee released its report on the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (six months paid leave) Amendment Bill, a member's bill in the name of Labour's social development spokeswoman Sue Moroney.

The bill, which would extend the length of paid parental leave from 14 to 26 weeks, is believed to have the support to pass through Parliament.

However, the Government has the right to use its financial veto to block it, and said that while it might support an extension of paid parental leave at some point, Moroney's bill was too expensive.

Accordingly, the committee was given extra time to try to reach a compromise, but revealed today that no such deal could be reached.

"Although we recognise that the proposals in this bill offer benefits, we also acknowledge that they have financial implications. We have therefore been unable to reach agreement on whether the bill should be passed," the report said.

Moroney said the Government had simply played politics.

"I agreed to that extension in good faith, but National members introduced no amendments and then voted down the work the select committee had done," Moroney said. 

"That's deeply cynical. It's all just a big game to National but Kiwi families are bearing the brunt of it."

The report made it clear that public submission were in favour of an extension of paid parental leave, with 99.6 per cent of the 3809 submissions in support of the Bill.

The committee considered a staged extension of leave over three years to reduce the cost of the bill, which it concluded was $138 million when fully implemented. However, there were "potential short term savings" of about $28.4m by way of additional taxes both from those receiving the payments and short term employees replacing them.

The Government has indicated it may be willing to increase paid parental leave when the economy can afford it.

"I'm not saying it's not important and I'm not saying there couldn't be some modest expansion," Prime Minister John Key said in January.

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- Fairfax Media

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