Jacinda Ardern commits to extending paid parental leave

New parents will be entitled to an extra four weeks of Paid Parental Leave (PPL) by July 2018 under changes promised by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. The initial change will take entitlements to 22 weeks.

A further extension to 26 weeks will take place by 2020.

Ms Ardern said it is "an extension to the time available for families to bond with their child at the most important time of a child's life". 

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 had the backing of enough of Parliament to pass but was scuppered when National used a financial veto.

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

Current payments equal the parent's average earnings to a maximum of $538.55 a week before tax. For people who are self-employed, the minimum payment is $157.50 a week before tax.

You can transfer your PPL to a spouse or partner, as long as they also qualify for PPL.

Labour says "Extending paid parental leave has a range of positive impacts in terms of child development and fostering parent-infant attachment."

Paid Parental Leave is funded by the Government. Only a handful of countries - the United States included - do not offer paid maternity leave.

Sophie Moskowitz, an early childhood teacher and first-time mother, says she believes the most valuable gift she and her partner can give to four-month-old Margot is their time, especially during the first months.

"At the moment, my main obstacle to being able to stay home with her is financial, so I whole-heartedly support any Government initiative that enables parents to spend more time at home with their children," Ms Moskowitz said.