Here’s Business NZ’s shill on extending paid parental leave: “Employers who have been forced to bear considerable replacement costs, or to find those amongst their other employees willing to provide cover, may well think hard before again employing a woman of child-bearing age”. 1) that makes no sense 2) it’s illegal under the Human Rights Act.
1) extending the maximum period of paid parental leave doesn’t change the total period of parental leave that people are entitled to. It make mean that people on average take marginally more parental leave on average, but that’s very much at the margin – if you’re getting someone in to replace a woman for, say, 30 weeks on average now, what’s the difference if it becomes 35 weeks? Businesses don’t pay the paid period, the government does, so that’s no problem either.
2) The Human Rights Act says:
(1) Where an applicant for employment or an employee is qualified for work of any description, it shall be unlawful for an employer, or any person acting or purporting to act on behalf of an employer,—
(a) to refuse or omit to employ the applicant on work of that description which is available; or
(b) to offer or afford the applicant or the employee less favourable terms of employment, conditions of work, superannuation or other fringe benefits, and opportunities for training, promotion, and transfer than are made available to applicants or employees of the same or substantially similar capabilities employed in the same or substantially similar circumstances on work of that description; or
(c) to terminate the employment of the employee, or subject the employee to any detriment, in circumstances in which the employment of other employees employed on work of that description would not be terminated, or in which other employees employed on work of that description would not be subjected to such detriment; or
(d) to retire the employee, or to require or cause the employee to retire or resign,—
by reason of any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination.
(1) For the purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are—
(i) for the purposes of sections 22 to 41 and section 70 and in relation to any different treatment based on age that occurs in the period beginning with 1 February 1994 and ending with the close of 31 January 1999, any age commencing with the age of 16 years and ending with the date on which persons of the age of the person whose age is in issue qualify for national superannuation under section 7 of the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2001 (irrespective of whether or not the particular person qualifies for national superannuation at that age or any other age):
So, the short of it is that the business classes’ peak group is threatening that its membership will violate workers’ human rights if paid parental leave is extended.
I’ll ask the same question I ask of the Police over Greg O’Connor, why do good bosses put up with being represented by these dinosaurs?
Meanwhile, Labour should be writing to the Human Rights Commission asking them to rule on whether Business New Zealand is threatening that its members will breach human rights.