NRT: “Daddy leave” and the parental leave bill

Written By: - Date published: 6:06 am, November 15th, 2017 - 7 comments
Categories: national, Parliament, same old national, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , , , ,

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn wrote yesterday:


Labour’s Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill will be going through its committee stage this afternoon, having been introduced and taken to second reading under urgency last week. The bill essentially duplicates Sue Moroney’s Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill. That bill had already been through the select committee process and had the support of the House, but National subjected it to an unconstitutional financial veto earlier in the year. So naturally, having now lost an election over the issue, National are trying to wreck the bill with an amendment allowing the parental leave allocation to be split between parents – effectively halving its length.

They do have a point. The best overseas parental leave schemes include provisions requiring leave to be split (or rather, that no parent can take the full allocation). In Sweden, this “daddy leave” has levelled expectations around parental leave, leading to greater equality in the workplace. Employers have come to expect employees to take leave irrespective of gender, and this has a levelling effect on both pay and promotions. In 2007, the Families Commission recommended [PDF] that the then 14 weeks of parental leave be extended progressively and include a specific “partner leave” allocation. So, this is clearly something New Zealand should do at some stage. At the same time, what we’re doing really badly on at the moment is duration and pay rates. I’m perfectly comfortable for the government to prioritise fixing that first – especially when that’s the bit that’s already been examined by select committee. When a bill is introduced in this way, under urgency, then I’d prefer to keep the scope to what’s already been approved, thanks.

In the longer term, I think its likely that further extensions to the paid parental leave scheme will feature in future Labour-NZ First budgets. So we’ll hopefully see a move to a split allocation in the future, in a way that doesn’t effectively reduce existing entitlements.

7 comments on “NRT: “Daddy leave” and the parental leave bill”

  1. Carolyn_Nth 1

    Isn’t it better in the long term to leave it up to the parents how they split paid parental leave. So the leave would follow the child, and either the parents could decide how to split it between themselves, or just one parent could use it all.

    That way, space is opened for women who want to continue working while their partner takes most of the leave. And in doing this, over time it will shift expectations about gender roles and work.

    • tuppence shrewsbury 1.1

      It would also maximise the paid leave entitlement depending on the earnings of each parent. Which would further help redress structural gender pay gaps as it becomes less “economic” in the eyes of the bosses to pay men more as they supposedly take less time off due to kids ya know?

      • Jilly 1.1.1

        I have seen both Arden and Lees-Galloway quoted as saying they expect to be revisiting this policy in future. I think working with what we can afford now they are aiming for the baby to have six months with either parent. This is a crucial time frame for developing healthy attachments, attachment problems have shown a strong correlation with mental health, addiction and relationship outcomes among others, so the potential cost to us of failing to allow at least one parent to build these attachments is high.

        I hope that the indications that there is more to do here would mean as we can afford it we include leave to be taken by both parents at same time.

        Iceland started with 3 months for both parents and 2 that could be shared, and have moved that up to 5 months for both parents with 2 months shared. Sweden also have “daddy leave”. Studies conducted in this time show that the longer both parents are home the more equal the sharing of parenting tasks and housework was even after return of both parents to work.

        I like this approach to gender pay gap in theory (although I couldn’t find any evidence to show this policy’s effect on pay gap), but essentially having children should impact equally on men and women’s performance/productivity at work. I’m not sure how long it takes conscious and unconscious bias to filter out but would be interesting to see stats on effects of this policy over time on pay gap if anyone comes across.

        Apparently women are still underrepresented at top levels but I assume the women currently benefiting from this are the ones we might expect to see in those roles in five/ten years time, due to sharing more equally the burden of parenthood with their partners, therefore being able to focus more time and attention on their own careers.

        Also, this policy says to me that fathers are equally important in the lives of their children which I think is both undeniably true and also an awesome message for new dads.

        Anyway, long ramble short, this is where I hope our government is taking parental leave!

  2. Enough is Enough 2

    My wife spent 5 weeks in hospital following the birth of our third child as a result of complications during birth.

    I had to juggle work and child care for the other two but got through because of a very supportive boss and family.

    Not everyone has that support, so it would have been very nice to have the option and flexibility to use the parental leave as and when needed.

    • Westiechick 2.1

      Yes, it is actually not a bad idea to let both parents use it at the same time because in some cases this will be necessary. Overall the extension is intended to allow baby more time in the care of a parent before parent returns to work but sometimes both parents could use it simultaneously. We had clingy toddler and non feeding, non sleeping baby and burnt though our savings so we could both be at home for a while. Not many can afford that.

  3. Cinny 3

    Allowing both parents to take time off work at once when baby comes would save relationships, sanity and possibly save lives too.

    I remember having it drummed into me when pregnant with my first that if ones partner was working, then let them sleep in the spare room so they can get enough rest for work. Needless to say I suffered big time, more value was put on him earning money than on me struggling to raise a baby that didn’t sleep, breast feeding issues and in the end severe post natal depression. Thanks anti natal classes for that, we were told about the baby blues, nada about PND, we were told to support our husbands. It was bullshit.

    If only he had taken more than a couple of days off work to help me in those first few weeks, I might not have ended up silently suffering for so long. I didn’t return to corporate work, instead started a business from home.

    Then came my second baby, I was back working the day after her birth. She didn’t sleep for more than 4hours at a time for the first year of her life. But once again at anti natal classes it was drummed into us to let our partners get rest if they were working. 13 trips to the Dr’s, you’ll be ok they said, I wasn’t ok. Exhusband was like, I’ve had such a long hard day at work, I’ll be in the shed call me when dinner is ready. So we suck it up and think it’s normal. It’s not.

    Oh to have lived in a village where everyone comes together to help with the new baby and support the mum, let her rest etc, dreams are free.
    We’ve households to run, babies to feed, businesses to operate, working partners to worship and suicide to contemplate.

    You’ve been in hospital for 24hrs while giving birth, time to get kicked out, no two weeks in the birthing unit to establish breast feeding and routines, it’s not the 70’s harden up it’s the new millennium.

    EDUCATE THE PEOPLE PROPERLY, ESPECIALLY ABOUT PND etc give both parents paid parental leave at the same time and let both parents have time to bond with their child and each other. For some that’s easy, for others it’s so bloody difficult that they consider taking their own lives.

    Woahs that came flowing out.. rant over.

  4. Venezia 4

    So both parents for shorter time or one parent ( at a time) for longer. If you put the baby at the centre of this issue, breastfeeding needs to be considered. Whatever supports establishment and continuance of breastfeeding for longer would be my choice.

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