Diversity Council Australia has long advocated for improvements in parental leave provisions in Australia. We welcome the recently tabled changes and commend the government for acting with the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) Bill 2022.
DCA supports all the following inclusions in the Bill:
- the extension from 18 weeks to 20 weeks, and the implementation of a two-week “use it or lose it” portion.
- the government’s announcement that parental leave pay will increase to 26 weeks total by 2026.
- the change to enable single parents access to the full 20 weeks.
- the removal of Dad and partner pay.
- the removal of ‘primary’, ‘secondary’ and ‘tertiary’, designations and supports a shared care, gender-neutral approach to parental leave.
- allowing claimants to take the payment in multiple blocks, as small as a day at a time, within two years of the birth or adoption.
- removing the requirement to not return to work.
- the introduction of a $350,000 family income limit.
- expanding eligibility to allow an eligible father or partner to receive parental leave pay regardless of whether the birth parent meets the income test, residency requirements or is serving a newly arrived resident’s waiting period.
This Bill is a step in the right direction, there is still a long way to go before Australia’s parental leave scheme is world-leading, equitable, and supportive of all families.
Australia significantly lags behind the OECD average when it comes to both the length of paid leave available, and public expenditure. The OECD average is 53 weeks for mothers and 8 weeks dedicated leave for fathers.
Australia should move toward best practice on parental leave to do that DCA recommends:
- As the total length of leave increases, the length of “use it or lose it” leave should be increased to encourage more fathers to take more leave.
- The government should consider bonus leave if both partners use their “use it or lose it” leave.
- Commonwealth parental leave pay should attract the superannuation guarantee.
- That parental leave reform is backed up by initiatives to break down the stigma and encourage men to take more parental leave.
Quotes attributable to Lisa Annese CEO, Diversity Council Australia:
“We are moving in the right direction on paid parental leave in Australia. All improvements in parental leave are welcome ones.”
“The introduction of ‘use it or lose it’ provisions are likely to go some way to encourage more men to take parental leave but there is more work to do to normalise and remove the stigma of men taking on caring responsibilities like taking up parental leave.”
“DCA welcomes the improvements introduced by the federal government and will continue to advocate for world-leading parental provisions for all Australian workers.”
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You can see our submission here.