Politics | Elections

Labour fires off another election policy it says will support families

Labour is promoting its paid partner’s parental leave policy as supporting parents and their new baby but it will cost so much it has to be phased in. The full scheme won’t kick in until 2026, if Labour is re-elected.

The new scheme would kick off next year, with a phased rollout over two years. It increases a partner’s current leave entitlement from two weeks’ unpaid leave to four weeks’ paid leave.

Whānau Ora Minister Peeni Henare says when his babies were born, “throughout all my roles they were my main focus”.

“We have supported mothers with maternity leave and being with their babies. And now we are focusing on the partners. We know that if both parents are home spending quality time with their children, the children will benefit.”

However, Māori make up 36% of New Zealanders on the benefit - who do not qualify for this policy.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says, “We’ve worked out that there will still be some partners who are not in employment, so if they haven’t been in employment, they wouldn’t be eligible. There will also be some parents who don’t have a named partner, and then there will be about a 50% take-up amongst the rest.”

National MP Tama Potaka says parental leave is not a holiday time.

“It’s for both parents to be together. It is not a holiday. Raising children is not a holiday, the leave is to care for the children. And that is a very hard job” Potaka said.