Why we must increase parental leave

Last updated 05:00 27/05/2014

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How should the Government help families?

Why we must increase parental leave Greens got it right for families

Assistance for families is shaping as a key issue in the September election and we asked our readers to share which family-focused policies would win their votes.

I'm surprised that National is willing to increase the level of parental leave. It must be an election year.

Usually, their shortsighted-policies focus on short-term business benefits by minimising or even eliminating any such governmental assistance.

Both Labour and the Greens regularly support these policies, as they realise the long-term benefits, not just for families but for businesses as well.

So what benefits are we talking about?

It has been proven in several studies that if people are happier, they are more productive. Not having to worry about bearing the full weight of the huge costs of childcare, after-school care and having to return to work when you should be bonding with your newborn, all makes for happier, and therefore more productive people.

On the other hand, a mother having to go back to work only three months after she's given birth and then having to pay the full cost of childcare generates a lot of stress which may well turn into a medical case, which then would cost the taxpayer a lot more than these assistance programs do.

What would I like to see in terms of Government policy? The average paid parental leave internationally is 30 weeks. So New Zealand should aim for that at least.

One of the most successful countries, Norway, which almost always comes out on top for best places to live, gives 56 weeks of annual leave.

Making sure that kids are fed also ensures that they're learning. It's very hard to learn on an empty stomach. We're not talking expensive meals here, maybe some toast or cereal and some milk. This should definitely be implemented especially at low decile schools, based on demand.

I can almost hear single people and large business owners saying, "but why should we pay for someone else's children?" Or the tired old line of: "If you can't afford kids don't have them."

Those same people either have never had children, so can't fully understand the amount of time and money involved, or don't think of their employees as investments, rather as disposable assets.

Those same businesses will likely have a high employee turnover, which produces a lot more wasted time and money than the cost of these programs.

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