Media Release 29 Aug 2017
Family First NZ is welcoming the announcement by National of their policy to extend paid parental leave to 22 weeks with flexibility for paid father leave – but says that parents shouldn’t have to wait until 2019 for this crucial support.
“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,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“Paid parental leave values mothers and parenting in general. And National is catching up with this fact. They are also correct to identify that dads have an equally important role. But why wait until 2019 for the full effect of the policy? 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.”
“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,” says Mr McCoskrie.
A nationwide poll of New Zealanders in 2013 commissioned by Family First NZ found strong support for paid paternal leave of two weeks for fathers. In the poll of 1,000 NZ’ers by Curia Market Research, respondents were asked “Would you support or oppose a proposal to provide Government paid parental leave of 2 weeks to fathers as well as mothers. It is estimated to cost around $20 million a year.” 68% support this proposal with 28% opposing. Interestingly, there was slightly stronger support from women.