Parental leave law ‘il­log­i­cal’

Northern Outlook - - FRONT PAGE - CATE BROUGHTON

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.

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