Media Release 14 November 2017
Family First NZ is supporting calls by National for parental leave to be allowed to fathers at the same time as mothers, but says that the leave should be a separate entitlement. Family First made this call in their submission at the Select Committee process when the issue was previously considered.
“Paid parental leave values mothers and parenting in general. And National is correct to identify that dads have an equally important role. Research is clearly indicating that fathers are fundamental to children’s healthy development as their involvement can improve the health, emotional well-being and educational achievement of their children, and are not an optional extra,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The period immediately following the birth of a child is demanding and difficult for mums – especially with sleep deprivation, recovering from childbirth, and coping with the existing demands of siblings. It is completely appropriately, and in fact desirable, that the father is involved in this crucial period of adjustment and to support the mother. This will promote hands-on parenting by fathers, which is a good thing.
“During the election campaign, NZ First announced their policy for paid paternal leave of two weeks rising to four weeks.”
“Early childhood education is receiving $1.7b taxpayer funding and yet our investment in hands-on parenting in those early crucial formative years has nowhere near the same investment. It’s time that changed so that parents can make a real choice.”
According to the latest OECD report, on average, OECD countries offer nine weeks of paid father-specific leave. Nine OECD countries provide no paid father-specific leave at all, and ten offer two weeks or less. However, at the other end of the scale, nine countries reserve three months or more of paid leave for fathers, with the father-specific entitlements in the two East Asian OECD countries – Japan and Korea – lasting as long as twelve months. Father-specific leaves are often well paid when short, although payment rates tend to fall once entitlements last longer than one month or so. In Australia, Dad and Partner Pay is up to 2 weeks of government funded pay based on the rate of the national minimum wage when you are on unpaid leave from work or are not working.
A nationwide poll of New Zealanders in 2013 commissioned by Family First NZ found 68% support for paid paternal leave of two weeks for fathers, with 28% opposing. Interestingly, there was slightly stronger support from women.