New Zealand legislates to extend paid parental leave to 26 weeks

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/11/30 18:42:49

The bill extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks by 2020 in New Zealand passed its third reading on Thursday, aiming to give children "the very best start in life," said Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Iain Lees-Galloway.

Longer paid parental leave is just the first step in giving children "the very best start in life," Lees-Galloway said, adding that extending the duration of payments is vital for supporting working families with newborns and young children and for New Zealand to catch up with the best international practice.

New Zealand's current paid parental leave entitlement of 18 weeks is one of the lowest in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with the average number of weeks of paid leave to mothers among OECD countries being 48 weeks.

The new legislation increases paid parental leave in two steps. Parents of babies due on or after July 1, 2018 will be eligible for 22 weeks of paid leave, up from 18 weeks. There will be a further increase to 26 weeks from July 1, 2020. This stepped-approach allows the government to increase paid parental leave within the parameters of its Budget Responsibility Rules, Lees-Galloway said.

"This move is great news for babies, parents and families. It will provide greater financial certainty and confidence for working families," the minister said.

The World Health Organization guidelines stress the importance of the first six months for babies to breastfeed and bond with parents, which are crucial for infant development.

Posted in: ASIA-PACIFIC

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