Anything that makes it a little easier for those raising children has got to be a good thing. So three cheers for Sue Moroney’s Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months Paid Leave) Amendment Bill. It seeks to increase the entitlement of paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 6 months over the next couple of years.
The Labour Party bill was drawn from the members’ ballot last week and looks set to get the support needed to pass at least its first reading, without the support of the National Party. Unfortunately, the National has said it would most likely veto the Bill at its third reading.
Putting aside whether it is an affordable change and where it will get to in the legislative cycle, this Bill could have been excellent news for parents and those planning to be parents in the future.
Wouldn’t it be great if the Bill went further though? I personally would like to see the sections that protects a parent’s right to return to work after parental leave to be extended from 12 months to 18 months. Allowing a working parent to be at home longer with their children before returning to work.
There are many parents who might like or need to return to work after taking parental leave, but may not feel ready or able to when their child is only one, or younger. It is stressful for the whole family if a parent returns to work before they feel ready. There are many parents of pre-term babies and families with twins or more who might benefit from such a further change. Such a change would obviously further supports parents-to-be and those raising small children by supporting their parents at a time that is critical for their development. It would also support those who choose to breastfeed past 12 months without the stress of pumping, bottles and the like.