New parents will be able to access more flexible paid parental leave after major changes passed parliament this week.
The government’s legislation, which combines two existing payments into a shared 20-week-scheme; expends access; and makes it easier for new fathers to obtain paid leave is the latest tranche of reforms to paid parental leave.
It will come into effect for parents whose babies were born or adopted from July 2023.
From then, either parent can apply for paid parental leave first, while they will also be able to access the entitlement in multiple blocks – meaning they will be able to take as little as one day, while working either side.
Single parents will be able to access the full 20-week entitlement.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the first round of major reforms, which passed on Monday, would be a boost to supporting gender equality.
By 2026, Labor wants paid parental leave to be available for 26 weeks total, however that is still well below the OECD average of 60 weeks.
The government’s latest tranche of changes to paid parental leave has passed parliament. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
“Improving paid parental leave is a critical, notion-building reform. Paid parental leave is vital for the health and wellbeing of parents and their children,” she said.
“We know that investing in paid parental leave benefits our economy. And we know that done right, paid parental leave – both government and employer schemes – can advance gender equality.”
The Greens however, want the changes to come into effect sooner, and want superannuation to be paid on the leave.
The minor party also want the government to outline a pathway to 52 weeks.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said strengthening the paid parental leave scheme was a priority of the government. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey has also called for the government to outline its plan to pay superannuation on paid parental leave.
“Not paying super on parental leave pay sends a message that unpaid caring work is undervalued, when in reality this work is indispensable to our economy and the wellbeing of families,” she said.
“Nearly 80 per cent of our members are women who work mainly in caring roles that are typically lower paid, such as aged care and early childhood education. They shouldn’t be financially penalised at retirement after spending their lives looking after others.”