Paid Parental Leave Puts Value on Parenting
Family First NZ is welcoming the government’s commitment to raising paid parental leave to 26 weeks, saying that it
recognises and puts a value on the benefit of investing in hands-on parenting for babies, especially in middle- to
low-income families. It is also asking whether NZ First’s pre-election policy for paternal leave is part of the package.
“Paid parental leave values mothers and parenting in general. Successive governments have undervalued mothers and the
vital role of parents as they bond with their very young children.Early childhood education receives $1.7b taxpayer funding
, yet our investment in hands-on parenting in those early crucial formative years has been nowhere near the same
investment. Parents can now start to make a real choice,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“The political and policy focus has previously been on the needs of the economy, rather than on the welfare of children
and the vital role of parents. In reality, this policy would represent about 0.2% of the total government spending, yet
research shows that the role of mothers and the early bonding between mums and babies is vital for healthy child
NZ’s Brainwave Trust which was formed as a response to new scientific evidence on the impact that experiences in the
first 3 years have on the brain development of a child, says on its website, “The early attachment between parents and their baby creates a foundation for that child’s future relationships with
others. Smiling, singing, touching and cuddling as part of attuned, responsive care is necessary to develop this part of
the brain. Close, loving physical touch is crucially important. These things allow the child to develop the brain
connections needed to feel empathy and care for others – an important prerequisite for healthy functioning as an adult.”
Family First is now asking whether NZ First will deliver their pre-election promise of paid leave for fathers of two
weeks rising to four weeks. According to the latest OECD report
, on average, OECD countries offer nine weeks of paid father-specific leave.
“Research is also showing us that it is important that fathers be actively involved with their children and are not an
optional extra. Fathers are fundamental to children’s healthy development as their involvement can improve the health,
emotional well-being and educational achievement of their children. That’s why we made the call
for a small amount of paid father leave also.”
“The role of parents during the crucial early years of a child should be acknowledged. Families should not be pressured
to return to work simply because of financial concerns, and the Parental Leave scheme and other family tax breaks such
as Income Splitting and the removal of marriage penalty taxes should support and strengthen families with young
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. Interestingly, there was slightly stronger support from women.