New Zealand always seems to be one step ahead of the rest of us. 

Last week, New Zealand lawmakers unanimously approved a motion to offer paid bereavement leave to mothers and their partners who have suffered a miscarriage or stillbirth.

Under the new law, employees will be entitled to take up to three days leave, rather than being forced to eat into their sick leave allowance.

New Zealand is reportedly the second-only country in the world to introduce such measures after India, where women are offered six weeks.

Minimum Wage

Today, New Zealand’s minimum wage is being increased. Minimum wage will now be NZ $20 (£10.17) an hour. 

The government has estimated that up to 175,500 workers will benefit from the minimum wage change. It is thought that wages across the economy will increase  by a whopping NZ $216m (£64,083,696).

People working 40 hours a week at minimum wage will now receive NZ $44 (£22.38) per week.

The increase in minimum wage, which was already relatively high to begin with, has been received with much excitement. 

Richard Wagstaff, President of The Council of Trade Unions said: “It’s important that the $20 minimum wage has finally become a reality.

“Over 170,000 Kiwis will have a pay rise, and for those who were on the previous minimum wage of $18.90 [£9.61], working a 40 hour week, they will have an increase of $44 a week (before tax).

“We know that thousands of working people do not earn enough to provide for a comfortable life for them and their whanau [extended family]. 

“They are the working poor; struggling to meet the costs of basics like food and housing.

He continued: “Increasing the minimum wage has a real and meaningful impact on these people’s lives, but these people will still be living on the bread line.

“Covid showed us all just how crucial many jobs are to the functioning of our society, jobs in health, cleaning, on our border or supermarkets. Many of these crucial roles are poorly paid.

“It’s time we valued those being paid the minimum wage more, and this increase is one way of doing just that.”

Taxing The Rich

Not only is minimum wage being increased, but tax for the highest earners is also being increased. 

There will be a 39 percent tax rate for New Zealand’s highest earners.

This will affect 2% of New Zealand’s population. Anyone who earns over NZ $180,000 (£91,000) a year will be subject to these increased taxes.

The increase in tax is expected to bring in NZ $550m (£279m) in revenue in 2021.

The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, has said that she is glad to have lived up to the promise she made prior to winning the election. 

She had promised to represent ‘real and long overdue improvements to the support we provide our most vulnerable’.

However, Jacinda has recognised that “there is still much more to do, including building more homes, improving our health system, investing in education, training and job opportunities.”

Image via Alamy