The Human Rights Commission has expressed concern about the recently released OECD report which states that New Zealand couples spend nearly a third of their income on childcare.
“Affordable childcare contributes to the realisation of wider human rights issues for women such as equal opportunity at work and equal pay,” said Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue.
“High quality, low cost child care is essential for low and medium income women returning to the work force after having children.”
The report “Society at a Glance 2016” states the average cost cross OECD member countries for two parent households is much lower at 13%.
At present New Zealand women are only entitled to a maximum of 16 weeks paid parental leave after having a child, however the universal subsidy for 20 hours per week free childcare only comes into effect when a child turns three years old. It is the time in between where there is a concern about the cost of childcare and the effect on women returning to work.
“Lower paid women who cannot afford to delay their return to work may be forced to compromise on childcare and care for children when they should be sleeping after shift work for example. Middle income women may delay returning to the workforce” said Dr Blue.
“In Eastern European countries, there are high numbers of women in senior management roles. This is attributed in part to having low cost, high quality childcare attached to workplaces. It would be great for all working Mum’s in New Zealand if the cost of childcare was lower.”