Employers are likely to look less favourably on women job-hunters due to rules around parental leave, a Bay women's group says.
"The general trend would be businesses would be less likely to take on women of child-bearing age because of the extended costs involved," Frances Austin, president of the National Council of Women New Zealand, Tauranga Branch said.
Business NZ created controversy on Wednesday when it presented its submission on Labour MP Sue Moroney's Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment Bill.
The lobby group warned women jobseekers may be discriminated against by employers if the paid parental leave period was extended from 14 to 26 weeks, as proposed by the bill. The group's submission said employers struggled to find suitable temporary staff to fill parental leave vacancies.
"Employers who have been forced to bear considerable replacement costs, or to find those amongst their other employees willing to provide cover, may well think hard before again employing a woman of child-bearing age."
After the presentation, Business NZ employment relations manager, Paul Mackay, told reporters the additional proposed leave allowance may cost more for employers as parents would lose their sharp edge in their workplace.
Mrs Austin - herself a former employer - said she agreed with the claims.
"There's a heap of costs involved.
"When a person goes off on maternity leave, they're guaranteeing their job for when they come back.
"But who's going to take it over while they're away - they've got to retrain people," she said.
Employment law specialist Blair Scotland, of Chen Palmer Law Firm, said extending the period was unlikely to make any difference to people who already discriminated against women because of leave allowances. "Regardless of what you do, there will potentially be a very small percentage of employers out there who will do that."
Mr Scotland said it was unclear how additional training costs could be associated with longer leave allowances.
"Parents, men, women can take up to that 52 weeks [unpaid parental leave] anyway.
"It's difficult to see where that additional cost comes from," he said.
Ms Moroney said the Business NZ submission was outdated and unfairly singled out women. "It is out of step with what I understand modern-day employer attitudes are towards women and I cannot explain, for the life of me, why an organisation like Business NZ would come to select committee with this type of written submission."