Paid parental leave – stripping away support for bubs

On 15 December, just as most of us were gearing up for the holidays, the Turnbull government foreshadowed changes to federal government support of paid parental leave (PPL) which will cut entitlements aimed at supporting babies and their families in their first crucial months of development.

The federal government used the Mid-Year Economic Financial Outlook (MYEFO) to foreshadow new cuts to the present PPL, with plans to cap access to the government scheme at 18 weeks.

The amount families will lose under this proposal will depend on the number of weeks leave they receive from their employer. For teachers, because the employer leave entitlement is 14 weeks, it would appear that only four weeks of federal PPL will be accessible.

The cuts proposed undermine the social and public policy positon that all major parties have had since at least 2010. Prior to that, Australia and the United States were the only two OECD countries without a national PPL scheme.

This was remedied by the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, which was based on the results of a 2008 Productivity Commission enquiry into parental assistance.

Explicitly built in to the legislation (and actively supported by the opposition) was an acknowledgment that the federal payment could be supplemented by an employer contribution. This was in line with the goal of giving mums access to at least 18 weeks’ paid leave at the minimum wage, with employer schemes being deliberately factored in, so as to maximise the length of time a child could have with their parent in their first six months.

Join the ACTU/QCU Paid Parental Leave campaign and tell the Senate that vision contained in the 2010 Act, and supported by all parties at the time, is the vision we wish to keep.

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 121 No 1, 5 February 2016, p15