BoxSeat Newsflash: Changes to Parental Leave

The new Labour-led Government has wasted no time in implementing some of the changes that they signalled they would introduce, if elected. One of the first big changes will occur around paid parental leave. 

On Wednesday, 8 November 2017, the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill had its first and second reading, which is being passed under urgency.  The only opposition to the bill came from Act’s David Seymour, with National giving their support. 

The purpose of the legislation is to provide protection of employment during pregnancy and parental leave.  The current position is that Primary Carers are entitled to 18 weeks’ government funded leave.   This proposed legislation will increase the parental leave entitlement to 22 weeks in July 2018 and progressively increase this to 26 weeks, by July 2020.  Partners are currently allowed a maximum of 2 weeks parental leave.  It does not appear this will change under this reform.

While criticism has been levelled at the Government for passing the bill with urgency, these changes will provide mothers more time with their babies and pull New Zealand closer to the standard set by other developed countries.  New Zealand’s paid parental leave entitlements are currently one of the lowest in the OECD.    

Small businesses, however, may struggle with this additional parental leave entitlement.  The challenge will be for smaller businesses to find suitable cover during this extended period of parental leave.  Conversely, though, it may be easier to find temporary employees to fill the position as they will be employed for a longer period.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact Diana Koorts or Jesse Lang.

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Diana Koorts