Many miss out on parental leave

NZ Herald 8 September 2014
A rise in casual and contract work is stifling the number of people applying for paid parental leave because they don’t fit the criteria.

The latest Inland Revenue Department figures released to the Herald show the number of parents applying for paid parental leave has flat-lined in the past eight years, despite an increase of 74,900 women in the workforce during the same period and 138,200 people in total.

In the year to March 31, 25,599 people took a portion of the 14-week entitlement – an increase of just 1591 since 2007.

New parents are entitled to paid parental leave only if they have worked for the same employer, or been self-employed, for more than 10 hours a week for at least six months before the baby’s due date. Casual and seasonal workers are exempt.

Public Service Association national secretary Glen Barclay said a rise in the use of casual and fixed-term contracts meant fewer workers were eligible for paid parental leave and while it was an excellent concept, the current rules made it increasingly inaccessible to people who should benefit from it.