Plunket is celebrating the extension to paid parental leave today as ‘an important investment in families and the future of New Zealand’.
The Bill passed its third reading today, and the new law will extend parental leave from 18 weeks to 22 weeks from 1 July 2018, and to 26 weeks from 1 July 2020.
“Today’s extension to paid parental leave is a step forward to be celebrated. It means parents and caregivers will have greater opportunity to spend more time at home during the critical first months of their babies’ life. It’s also a positive step towards society starting to really value the time families spend caring for their babies and young children.”
The first six months of a child’s life is crucial for their development, and extended paid parental leave is recognized globally as providing significant benefits to tamariki, whānau and communities. New mothers experience improved mental and physical health as a result of extended leave, it allows for stronger parental attachment, increases in length of exclusive breastfeeding and leads to higher immunization rates.
“It’s a time when parents adjust to their new way of life and build community connections, while all the time learning about the needs of their growing baby. It can also be a stressful time, and families tell us that more support such as extended paid parental leave will be a big help,” said Plunket CE Amanda Malu.
“We welcome and commend politicians from across the political spectrum now supporting extended paid parental leave, and we look forward to further discussion about how best to support families with young children and put their needs at the centre.”
Plunket families at its Johnsonville Hub today celebrated the Bill being passed into law. One Plunket mum, Antonat Fernando said: “It’s awesome. It will definitely help and take the stress off.”
Another Plunket mum Leisa Keach, also welcomed the news: “It’s going to lead to better social development of the children to have their parents less tired and more present.”
Plunket’s Amanda Malu said the whole of society stood to gain from the new laws: “If we can all work to support families to give their children the very best start in these early days – then we all benefit as a society as a result. There will be better health and better life outcomes for children if we get things right in those early years.”
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