Parental leave law ‘illogical’
A North Canterbury father denied payments to care for his newborn after his partner’s death has gone public highlighting the ‘‘wackiness’’ of the law.
Keith Falconer’s partner had not been working in the 12 months before she gave birth and was not entitled to the payments, which meant they could not be transferred to Falconer following his partner’s death during childbirth.
But after Falconer went public on Tuesday, Workplace Relations Minister Iain LeesGalloway confirmed the Rangiora father would receive a ‘‘one-off’’ ex-gratia payment equivalent to the paid parental leave entitlement he would have received as the primary carer.
Falconer calls the current law ‘‘illogical’’ and said he became ‘‘reasonably upset’’ when the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) initially told him ‘‘you have no entitlement’’.
‘‘I thought ‘well this is an illogical thing here’,’’ Falconer said.
‘‘If, let’s say, you adopt a child tomorrow you would be entitled to paid parental leave, but I’m not. So I was just trying to highlight the wackiness.’’
Falconer said he was ‘‘stunned’’ by Tuesday’s turnaround, which meant he would now be offered support.
‘‘My first thought was ‘wow, this is incredible’,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s an extraordinarily generous move by the Government, but equally I actually don’t know what it consists off – I had that three minute call and then I had a further two minute call [on Tuesday].
‘‘That’s the only contact I’ve had from the Government, so I still don’t know anything about what’s happening, which bizarre in its own way.’’
Lees-Galloway said a situation like Falconer’s had not arisen before.
‘‘This has exposed a gap in the legislation which is something
is we will need to address.
‘‘But more immediately, I’m pleased to say we have found a solution for him,’’ he said.
‘‘Staff worked incredibly hard to find a solution within the legislation and they couldn’t, so they have now found a work around and we will now need to look at the legislation.’’
Falconer said the loophole in the legislation needed to be highlighted.
‘‘That’s why I did what I did today,’’ he said.
‘‘Do I regret what I did today? In the wash up of it maybe, but if it means that someone else isn’t going to get dragged through this mess again well then it was worth it.’’
Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment Iain Lees-Galloway says the case of a Christchurch father denied parental leave payments has exposed a gap in the law. The government has agreed to pay the man an ex-gratia payment.