Parental leave extends to 18 weeks today, but 'the country can afford' more, says Labour

Parents will have to be satisfied with the extension to 18 weeks paid parental leave which kicks in today, with the Government set to block a Labour bid for 26 weeks for a second time.

From today thousands of Kiwis will get a boost as increases in welfare benefits, New Zealand Superannuation, the minimum wage and extended paid leave for parents and some caregivers all come into effect.

With the rules changing tomorrow many are backing Labour's campaign for 26 weeks. Source: 1 NEWS

The Government bowed to public pressure and gradually started increasing paid parental leave last year.

But some are still campaigning for more, with Labour's Industrial Relations spokesperson Sue Moroney saying it's still not enough.

"It's a start. I don't think it is a compromise and you really can't compromise on what's best for babies," she said.

Ms Moroney is on her second attempt to push a bill through Parliament increasing paid parental leave to 26 weeks.

"We know that the country can afford it. And the majority of MPs in Parliament agree that New Zealand taxpayers can afford this at present." 

But the government will for a second time block it, Workplace relations Minister Michael Woodhouse saying it would cost between $150 million and $200 million extra.

Parents ONE News spoke to support more paid leave.

"It would make life a lot easier. It means six months of no stress. Those first six months you are dealing with a newborn baby," said parent Katie Radley.

But they supported the extra leave coming in today to spend with their babies.

"Every day they do something different and you could miss out on that first smile or all those milestones. And I think it's definitely a good thing that they've decided to make it longer," said parent Mia Grey.

Also today, welfare payments increase by up to $25 a week, the minimum wage rises by 50 cents an hour and some ACC levies drop.