Employers concerned over cost of extending parental leave
Employers are questioning the timeliness of extending the paid parental leave scheme.
And the issue, according to Employers and Manufacturers Association senior manager David Lowe, is how the Government will pay for it.
Parliament will hear a private members bill from Labour's Sue Moroney, proposing extending the leave period from 14 to 26 weeks.
Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson says the extension would cost the Government an extra $150 million a year.
According to Inland Revenue, the scheme cost $154 million in the 2010/11 tax year, with about 26,400 women on leave.
Of those who took paid parental leave, 40% returned to work within six months, and 70% were working 13-18 months later, according to Labour Department figures for the 2002-05 period - the most recent available, even if out of date.
An evaluation of the leave scheme undertaken by the department in 2005-06 showed two-thirds of those who returned to work after taking leave, went back to the same employer.
Mr Lowe supports the move in principle.
He says if parents are able to spend a bit longer with their child and then return to work, it could work out better for the parent, the child and the employer.
“When you have people coming back to work with a very young child, the caregiver needs time to care for them.
The issue is how the Government will pay for it, Mr Lowe says.
Business NZ chief executive Phil O’Reilly says the existing leave scheme has been well supported by the business community.
“It encourages people to return to work because they don’t have to make alternative economic arrangements,” he told NBR Online.
Mr O'Reilly questions if this is a good time to extend the leave.
"It’s one of those policies that’s good to do when they country’s going along well”, he says.