Midwives welcome increased parental leave payments in New Zealand

on 22 June 2022

Midwives in New Zealand have welcomed the $40 a week increase in parental leave payments announced by the government.

The increase will come into effect from 1 July 2022, which means the weekly rate of paid maximum parental leave will be increasing to $661.12, a 6.3% increase before tax. Parents who are self-employed will also benefit with an increase to their minimum payment of $212 per week.

Midwifery Employee Representation & Advisory Board (MERAS), who is an associated organisation of the New Zealand College of Midwives, has been calling for an increase in the cap of parental leave payments since the 2020 government election.

Jill Ovens, who is Co-Leader at MERAS, says average weekly earnings in New Zealand is currently $1404.15. Parents whose weekly pay is above the new maximum of parental leave payments will experience a loss of income and may be forced to return to work to their babies are less than six months old.

Evidence shows the first few months are the most important in a baby’s life. MERAS has welcomed the government’s commitment to support working families with their new borns. However, MERAS is calling for partners to have some entitlement to paid parental leave at the same time as the mother to strengthen support.

“Currently if her partner wants to take parental leave, the mother has to transfer some of her leave as it is only for the primary care giver. But after the birth, it would be great for the baby’s mother to have her partner there to look after both of them and another other children in the family. This help her to recover from the birth and to establish breastfeeding.

“We think is this especially important when mothers are being sent home from hospitals within 24 hours of the birth,” Jill Ovens said.

MERAS has also highlighted aspects of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act that should be addressed such as entitlement to receive full 52 weeks of parent leave for those who have changed their employer in the previous 12 months, the way annual leave is paid out after returning from parental leave, and the rights of surrogates to receive some paid leave following childbirth.

Source: Scoop Politics