The Families Commission in New Zealand will this week recommend the Government significantly beef up paid parental leave.
Commission head Rajen Prasad told the Herald on Sunday the commission’s research suggested greater incentives would encourage Kiwis to have more children.
It comes as Laila Harre, the ex-MP who brought New Zealand paid parental leave, is arguing conditions are ripe for the leave period to rise to 12 months.
Kiwi women had 61,610 babies in the year to June, up 3360, or 5.8 per cent, on the previous year and the biggest baby harvest since 1972, according to Statistics New Zealand. The rise in our fecundity drove the largest population boost by natural increase – when births outnumber deaths – since 1992.
Prasad said the recommendations, if adopted, could turn what may yet be a blip into a lasting boom. The commission will release recommendations to Government on Tuesday for significantly extending and increasing paid parental leave provisions. Prasad said, “We are pretty certain [the report] will receive very good consideration.”
Currently, parents can claim 14 weeks’ paid parental leave at up to $391.28 a week.
Harre said the entitlement was “very minimal” by international standards, and wants to see it extended to 12 months at higher weekly payments. “That sort of length of time is starting to look more realistic.”
A year would make it more practicable for fathers to use some of the leave whereas, now, mothers are likely to use up the whole 14 weeks.
This would also increase the length of time that Kiwi mommies breastfeed.