Committee considers paid leave for fathers

By Nicholas Jones

Two weeks paid leave for dads is being touted.
Two weeks paid leave for dads is being touted.

Fathers of newborns should get two weeks paid "father leave" to help them bond with their baby and support their partner through an often stressful time, Family First NZ say.

A number of countries have varying paid leave for new dads.

In 2011 Australia introduced a "Dad and Partner" pay scheme, that provides two weeks leave for most working fathers after the birth of a child, with a payment equivalent of the minimum wage.

The support is to help fathers bond with their child, take on more care, and help out mothers following a birth.

Family First NZ yesterday submitted to a Parliamentary committee considering a parental leave amendment bill and, while supporting an extension of paid parental leave to 26 weeks, also asked for paid father leave of two weeks rising to four weeks.

National director Bob McCoskrie said its own polling carried out by Curia Market Research showed 68 per cent of New Zealanders backed paid father leave.

"The period immediately following the birth of a child is demanding and difficult for mums, especially with sleep deprivation, recovering from childbirth, and coping with the existing demands of siblings," Mr McCoskrie said. "This will promote hands-on parenting by fathers, which is a good thing."

At present, dads are entitled to two weeks' unpaid leave. The primary eligibility for paid parental leave lies with the mother. If her partner is also eligible then she may transfer all or part of her entitlement to her partner.

A 2009 report by the Families Commission found almost half the 1721 fathers surveyed were unable to take parental leave. After the publication of that report, the commission called for fathers to be given their own leave entitlement.

Paid maternity leave will be extended to 18 weeks next month.

The Labour bill, in the name of Sue Moroney, would extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks from April 2018. NZME


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