National does U-turn on paid parental leave

National leader Bill English now says he supports plans to increase paid parental leave to 26 weeks.

While in Government in 2016, National used a financial veto against Labour's bill to extend leave by this amount, calling it "a significant extra, unbudgeted, cost".

However new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the Government will increase paid parental leave to 22 weeks in 2018, rising to 26 weeks from 2020 - and Mr English says he now supports this.

"We'll support it, we campaigned to extend it just in the recent election campaign," he told the AM Show on Tuesday.

"I think going to 26 weeks is logical, we've just got to see how all this and a whole lot of other promises are adding up.  We'll find that out over the next few months. But it's good for mothers and babies."

The extension to PPL was promised as part of Labour's 100-day plan, and a Paid Parental Leave bill will be introduced to Parliament on Wednesday and is expected to pass with the support of NZ First and the Greens.

Ms Ardern indicated the bill may skip the select committee process, passing under urgency, because it has already been through select commitee.

"It would not be a good use of Parliament's time to repeat that process to the same degree," Ms Ardern said.

National ran on extending paid parental leave from 18 to 22 weeks if re-elected to government, although Mr English had previously said he believed the Government's work in previous Budgets to increase the limit from 14 weeks to 18 weeks was about right.

Mr English told the AM Show he hoped the new Government would allow both parents of a child to take time off work together.

"It will work, I just hope they'll keep the piece that allows the father and the mother to take paid parental leave at the same time," Mr English says.

"We proposed that during the campaign I think that would help families as well."

Newshub.