Labour says shared parental leave is 'not that simple'

The Opposition has accused the Government of acting like a 'nanny state' for blocking a proposed change to parental leave rules.

National wants to allow parents of new babies to take paid leave at the same time, but the government says babies would miss out.

Labour MP Willow Jean Prime was happy to have her husband off work for a week when her daughter Heeni arrived, but wishes it could have been longer.

"That is one of the most challenging times - as soon as mum has given birth -  and I know in our own situation, that was a time I really appreciated having my husband there."

The Government is passing urgent legislation to increase the amount of paid leave parents can take to 22 weeks. It will take effect from July next year.

Currently, parents can split paid parental leave, but cannot take it at the same time. National wants that changed, so parents can take time off together, but the Government says it's not that simple. 

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees Galloway says the policy would have "unintended consequences".

"You could have two parents at home for 13 weeks, rather than one at home for 26. 

"What's important is that time that the baby has with their primary caregiver and we want that to be as long as possible."

National's justice spokeswoman, Amy Adams, said Labour was "dictating that they know what's best for families".

The policy would not cost anything to implement and taking it on would be an easy way for the new Government to look pragmatic. 

However, National didn't provide the actual amendment until late this afternoon, so the Government has had little time to read it, let alone adopt it.