Many parents are missing out on paid parental leave because they are employed in casual or contract work.
The latest figures from Inland Revenue show that the number of parents applying for paid parental leave has stayed steady in the past seven years despite an increase in the number of woman in the workforce. This has been attributed to the number of casual and contract workers who are ineligible for paid parental leave.
Glen Barclay, the National Secretary of the Public Service Association says that while paid paternity leave is an excellent concept ‘The current rules make it increasingly inaccessible to people who should benefit from it.’
According to separate government figures only 40% of new parents are receiving paid parental leave. Barbara Arnold, the President of National Council of Woman says the financial pressure on families or the restrictions on eligibility is responsible for 60% of parents not taking the paid leave. ‘Parents know this time is crucial, but they sometimes have to make hard decisions about how they actually survive to get enough food and electricity and pay the rent.’
In countries such as the UK if you have worked for 26 weeks out of 66 prior to giving birth you are entitled to the government maternity pay scheme, regardless of employment status.
From April next year the government next year paid parental leave 16 weeks and in 2016 it will increase to 18 weeks.