by Jan Logie
I’m not usually prone to giving order but there are only 9 days left now. Submissions close on Friday the 5th of October. You can download a submission from or submit on line at 26 for babies. It was fantastic news when Sue Moroney got this Bill pulled, let’s not let it go to waste.
I’m sure you don’t need convincing of the virtues of parents being able to spend 26 weeks at home with their new born, but just in case you need extra motivation to spur you into action (or ideas for your submission) here are 26 reasons, courtesy of the PPTA
It strengthens child and parental attachment:
- Longer paid parental leave is necessary for secure parent child attachment. The current provisions of 14 weeks paid time off work is insufficient time for bonding between a new born and their primary caregiver. Research indicates that bonding with babies at an early stage by father is associated with higher sensitivity to children’s emotional needs.
- There is compelling evidence of the benefits to child and maternal health and welfare from a period of absence of work from a primary caregiver to a new born child for a period of six months. A study of OECD countries concluded that parental leave may be a cost effective method in improving child health.
- Children on average do better cognitively and have fewer behavioural problems if a parent can be home at least part time in their first year. Evidence suggests that longer periods of paid parental leave are associated with reduced rates of infant mortality. Studies found that a ten week extension in paid leave has the potential to reduce child mortality by around 2.5 percent.
It is essential to support breast feeding:
- Paid parental leave of six months assist with supporting breast feeding and meeting the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health recommendation for infants to be breast feed exclusively up to six months.
- All women should be provided with the opportunity to take a period consistent with WHO, Ministry of Health and public health and recommendations on breast feeding.
- The benefits from exclusive breast feeding for up to six months are significant and include reductions in a wide range of infant illnesses and conditions as well as improved health outcomes for adults including psychological benefits and reduced maternal cancer risks.
New Zealand lags well behind other OECD countries:
- New Zealand’s paid parental leave provisions are among the least generous and least comprehensive in the industrialised world.
- Other than the annual adjustments payment rates to counteract inflation, there have been no improvements to the paid parental leave scheme since 2006.
- Australia introduced 18 weeks paid leave in 2011 at a rate equivalent to the minimum rate wage. With Australian provisions being above those in New Zealand this is another reason for New Zealand families to stay in Australia rather than return home to have their children.
It improves equity and recognises the role of child care as work:
- Longer paid parental leave signals that having a child and taking time out for the newborn and child care is an expected and normal part of life and is a necessity for managing major life transitions and events similar to other leave arrangements.
- Longer paid parental leave will encourage fathers to take more leave and improve gender equity in the home and more equal sharing of domestic responsibilities. The evaluation of the paid parental leave scheme found that fathers are not using their unpaid partner / paternity leave and instead are using annual leave during the time of the birth/adoption of a child.
- While there has been a decrease in the gender pay gap as measured by the median incomes this is in the context of the lowest recorded pay increase in the last decade. The gender pay gap on the best measurement is 9.6 percent. Comparing weekly earnings shows a gender pay gap of 23 percent. Longer paid parental leave contribute to pay and employment equity for women and reduces the pay and employment inequity that women face from being out of the workforce for extended periods and the loss of earnings as well as the disadvantages and negative pay and career employment impacts from leaving the workforce.
It is good for society and reduces other costs:
- The gains from a longer period of absence and at work and child caregiver bonding not only accrue to parents but also to society. Time off work for up to a year of a child’s first year of life allows better parental and attachment with long term social benefits for children, families and society.
- Investing in parental leave protect against costs arising from insecure child parent attachments. Poor outcomes for children results in high health costs and spillover social costs to society. The Prime Minister’s Chief Scientist, Sir Peter Gluckman, has said that strong attachment between babies and parents in their first few months of life help children’s development all the ways into adult years and that the benefits flow through to the economy and society through fewer prisons and reduced costs on remedial education and health
- The Symposium of parental leave, early maternal employment and child outcomes reported in The Economic Journal concluded, that “longer periods of leave are associated with better health outcomes for women and infants and could potentially lead to better developmental outcomes as well.
Longer paid parental leave makes good economic sense:
- The extra tax revenue associated with the higher workforce participation of women on paid parental leave is estimated to be significantly more than the cost of their parental leave payments.
- Paid parental leave changes the mix of jobs in the economy and creates opportunities for replacement employee to gain experience and skills which will benefit them and society.
- There are direct economic benefits to GDP and to society form breast feeding. Breast feeding brings significant economic benefits because it reduces the private and public costs of commercial breast milk substitutes and avoids the costs from children being prematurely weaned or going to early on to formula or solid food.
During recessionary times longer paid leave stimulates economic growth:
- Research has shown that spending on paid parental leave is a highly effective way to stimulate the economy and is more effective than cash bonuses, infrastructure spending and tax cuts in the context of the economic crisis.
- The introduction of a paid parent leave scheme in Australia at the rate of the adult minimum age was identified as generating additional GDP , through increased labour market participation by mothers) and the creation of more jobs (with more mothers and parents taking leave) and thus reduced the cost of the scheme.
It is good for mothers and their employment options:
- Too short a period of paid parental leave creates pressures on women to go back to work against the wishes of mothers and the preferences of parents.12 The evaluation of the New Zealand paid parental leave scheme found that on average mothers returned to work when their baby is six months old, but the preference of parents was to return to work at twelve months old.
- Paid parental leave improves women’s attachment to the labour force. Leaving the workforce because of too short a period of paid parental leave breaks the link with the workforce and makes it harder to re‐enter the labour force compared to having an expected return date.
- Longer paid parental leave is good for the wider labour force too. If women leave the labour market because of too short a paid parental leave period, the labour market loses the skills and human capital they have accumulated for longer than would otherwise occur.
It reduces financial pressures at stressful times:
- Parents are economically vulnerable when new children arrive. The biggest barrier to taking the full 12 months available parental leave was financial pressure and this is the key reason for returning to work earlier than is desired.
- Debt heavily affects family well being. Reduced financial pressure will reduce other stresses during a period of major family transition. Paid parental leave is a means of buffering the potential for debt in families with dependent children and preventing debt accumulation.
- Relieving financial pressures is particularly important for low‐income families who are less likely to have accumulated leave and financial reserves. Paid parental leave is typically taken at the end of all other available leave.