Government urgently steps in after widowed father refused paid parental leave

The Government has rushed through compensation for a man who was refused paid parental leave after his wife died after birth, NZME reports.

The baby was delivered at 33 weeks by emergency C-section, after the mother was hospitalised with breathing problems, NZME reports. The mother later died in surgery.

The baby's father was not entitled to paid parental leave because his wife didn't have a job in the year leading up to the baby's expected delivery. As a result, there was no entitlement to transfer to the baby's father.

The devastating case has exposed a gap in the paid parental leave legislation, which was rushed through under urgency within the Governments' first 100 days of power. The Government justified the use of urgency because the paid parental leave bill had previously been through Select Committee before the National Government used a financial veto to halt its progression.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday morning when she read about the case, she was "baffled" and "really concerned".

She said "on the face of it," it appears there is a flaw in the legislation.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Anna Bracewell-Worrall/Newshub.

Minister of Workplace Relations Iain Lees-Galloway announced MBIE has found a workaround and will issue an ex-gratia payment to the man.

"This has exposed a gap in the legislation, which is something we need to address, but more immediately, I'm very pleased to say we have found a solution for this gentleman and his family," he said.

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway.
Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. Photo credit: Anna Bracewell-Worrall/Newshub.

Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges said he doesn't have anything against paying the man a lump sum.

"[His case] seems awful," Mr Bridges said.

"I can't quite see why he's not eligible from reading the case. I don't think I would be critical of the Government coming in with money here for what seems like a harrowing case."


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