26 Oct 2012

MP stunned at Business NZ's attitude to parental leave

8:53 pm on 26 October 2012

The MP behind a bill to extend paid parental leave is astounded by a suggestion that a longer period off work could result in women losing their employment skills.

Parliament's Government Administration Select Committee is hearing submissions on a bill put forward by Labour MP Sue Moroney extending the scheme from 14 to 26 weeks.

Business New Zealand told the select committee on Wednesday that research shows the longer people are off work, the more likely it is they will lose work skills.

Employment policy manager Paul Mackay says this is called human capital depreciation and having to upskill workers is a cost to employers.

Mr Mackay says it is not a good time economically for the state to support more paid leave.

The written submission also says extending the scheme would discourage the employment of younger women.

Ms Moroney says the "deeply worrying" submission displays attitudes from a bygone era.

"I think they've also misunderstood what happens with families over that period of time by arguing that after 20 weeks, women lose touch with the work environment and start losing their skills."