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More Q&A on Paid Parental Leave



Paid Parental Leave for Self-Employed

By:  Rowena Singh

The announcement of the intention to extend the Paid Parental Leave scheme to the self-employed from 1 July 2006 was made prior to the last election.  NZTECHO wanted to pursue this further and find out how it would apply to freelancers in our industry, particularly female screen crew.  Here’s an email interview with  PENNY NELSON,  Group Manager of Workplace Policy with the Department of Labour.

NZTECHO:  While it's wonderful news that the current Government plans to introduce legislation to Parliament this year to extend the Paid Parental Leave Scheme to the self-employed from 1 July 2006, with the current legislation the criterion is that the parent has to be in six months continuous employment to be eligible.

We wondered how this would impact on crew in the industry who work on contracts that tend to be erratic, be days or months long, and can have gaps of a week or a month, or more, between contracts.

PENNY NELSON:   Fourteen weeks paid parental leave will be available to self-employed mothers who have been working an average of 10 hours per week during the six months before the birth or date of adoption of a child  (with the same right to transfer to their partners as applies for employees.)
Payment would be at a rate equal to their average weekly income, up to a maximum consistent with that applying to employees  (currently $357.30 per week).

Self-employed people who make a loss or earn less than the minimum wage for a minimum of 10 hours per week  (currently $95 per week)  would be entitled to parental leave payments at a flat rate equivalent to 10 hours per week paid at the rate of the minimum wage.

 

How would this impact on self-employed crew in the film and television sector?

The nature of self-employment, particularly the sometimes erratic nature of self-employment, was considered during the development of the policy.

A self-employed person should be entitled to parental leave payments even if they work in more than one job at a time, or with gaps between different contracts.  If someone has more than one job at a time, or is working on different contracts following on from one another, their employment will still be treated as one period of self-employment.  However, any breaks between contracts must be 30 days or shorter for them to be eligible for paid parental leave.

 

Any further comments you may wish to add?

This Bill indicates the Government’s commitment to responding to the needs of self-employed New Zealanders.  Extending the Paid Parental Leave Scheme to the self-employed will give practical, financial help to new mothers and enable them to have income immediately following the birth or adoption of their baby.  It will also give them greater choice about when to return to paid work.

 

POST SCRIPT:

More Q & A from Consumer Magazine:

Does the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act apply before the birth of a baby?

Yes. 

If an expectant mother is eligible under the Act and has applied for maternity leave, she can start her leave up to six weeks before the expected date of delivery of the child. However,

·She can start her leave even earlier than this if directed to do so by her doctor, if he or she believes it is necessary for the health of the mother and baby.

·She may be required to start her leave even earlier if directed to do so by her employer if she cannot continue to do her job safely or cannot perform her job adequately.

·She can start her leave at any other time before the baby is due if she has reached an agreement with her employer.

An eligible expectant mother is also entitled to up to 10 days special unpaid leave from her job before the birth of child for reasons connected with pregnancy (for example, to attend medical appointments).

 

Does the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act apply to partners?

Yes.

·An eligible mother may transfer some or all of her 13 weeks paid parental leave entitlement to an eligible partner.

There are additional entitlements available to partners on the following basis:

·For partners who have worked for the same employer for at least six months for an average of 10 hours per week before the expected date of delivery of a child, he or she is also entitled to an additional one week unpaid paternity/partners leave.

·For partners who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months for an average of 10 hours per week before the expected date of delivery of a child, he or she is also entitled to an additional two weeks’ unpaid paternity/partners leave, and up to 52 weeks unpaid extended leave (less any period of paid parental leave transferred to him or her).

 

Further information for self-employed parents is available on the Department of Labour website www.ers.govt.nz or by calling the Department of Labour's Workplace Contact Centre on 0800 20 90 20.



   
   
   
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