Creating Myths for Parental Leave

Tuesday 30 October 2012, 2:07PM
By Auckland Chamber of Commerce

The Equal Employment Opportunities Trust has expressed disappointment at the attempt to create barriers for women taking parental leave as submissions begin for the extension of parental leave bill.

Yesterday the select committee received four submissions about increasing paid maternity leave from the current 14 weeks to six months.

The EEO Trust chair, Michael Barnett, says claims that mothers may ‘lose their workplace edge’ are unacceptable.  “There is no evidence to support these statements and in fact when an employee is on parental leave it should result in a positive change to workplace habits.”  Mr Barnett explains that employers who value their talent should maintain contact with the mother or father so they remain engaged and informed.

“When the person returns to work an option is they can have flexible hours or job share with another employee.”

Mr Barnett says it’s about cultivating diversity in the workplace and there is no excuse for creating barriers.  “It’s about being a responsible employer and I am pleased to see more businesses are implementing their own parental leave policies to support new parents.”

He says the EEO Trust has not come across ANY businesses who have struggled to find staff when an employee goes on leave.  “It also creates an opportunity to employ contractors and a wide mix of different employees so I do not understand the claim that employers struggle to find a replacement.”
Mr Barnett said “I have not found any research that shows parental leave is detrimental to the business or the new parent”.

He says discrimination against working women of child bearing-age is unacceptable.