Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Paid Parental Leave Progress

I'm really pleased about the recent improvements made to the Paid Parental Leave scheme which will allow self-employed women to also receive assistance on the birth of a child.

PPL was legislated for, if memory serves me correctly, in 2000, and came into effect in 2002. It was in my view one of the most important initiatives to come out of the Labour/Alliance government of that time. The scheme was initially modest, providing 12 weeks of pay once a woman had been with an employer for 12 months. A subsequent review widened the scheme to provide 14 weeks after 6 months of employment, with the recent announcement allowing about an extra 8000 self employed women to receive assistance each year.

I think the progression of the scheme is a good example of the way this government approaches reform. While there were many understandable calls in the early days for a wider and more generous scheme, Labour's approach of putting in place a modest system, and then looking at progressively improving it as the situation allowed, has meant that PPL has been implemented pretty smoothly, with a minimum of fuss - slow and steady change is definitely the most durable. I understand that a review taking place next year will analyse the impact of PPL and consider further changes.

Incidentally, all of the employers I have talked to about PPL think that it is great - they keep good staff who would otherwise consider leaving on the birth of a child.

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