Changes to paid parental leave create financial mess for young families
Tony Abbott’s changes to your paid parental leave (PPL) scheme have created a mess – and he’ll need more than Napisan to clean it up.
In one cheap Budget trick, the Coalition stripped away $11,500 from more than 16,000 Queensland mothers, and insulted all those parents who had accessed this scheme since its introduction five years ago. Teachers or administrators in DET who were previously eligible for both their employer’s 14 weeks PPL and the federal payment will now not be able to receive the government payment. As a result, all QTU members who need to access PPL will be $11,500 worse off.
The current universal Paid Parent Leave (PPL) scheme introduced by the previous Labor federal government in 2010 was designed as a basic scheme for parents that would be complemented by more generous employer schemes.
Those employer schemes were negotiated through enterprise bargaining, with employees making concessions to reach agreement. Now the federal Coalition has double-crossed and turned on an estimated 80,000 Australian female workers. Even worse, senior federal Coalition figures are describing this scheme as a “rort” and legally accessing these schemes is “fraud”.
That’s not how Tony Abbott saw PPL back in 2012 when he promised a government-funded scheme that would give some new mothers up to $75,000 for 16 weeks to stay home with their baby.
Now Tony Abbott and the Coalition have decided that the new parents of Australia are expendable in their latest budget.
Currently, mothers can access parental leave payments both from the modest government scheme and from their employer, if their workplace has one. The government scheme, introduced by Labor in 2011, provides 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage of $640.90 per week to primary care givers earning $150,000 a year or less.
Combined with an employer scheme, it provides new mothers with the opportunity to access the recommended 26 weeks of time with their young child. Why 26 weeks? That’s what World Health Organisation and National Health and Medical Research Council experts say is the minimum recommended period of exclusive care and breastfeeding. That gives mothers time to bond with and breastfeed their babies without financial stress forcing them back to work too early, sometimes within weeks, which will be the case under the Coalition changes.
Unions lobbied politicians from both parties in its efforts to ensure paid parental leave would have wide community support. Activities included a 25,000 signatory petition, community and workplace meetings, major public events as well as a parliamentary submission, and numerous letters to media outlets and politicians.
As then-ACTU President Sharan Burrow said: “The campaign to win this essential piece of social infrastructure has taken 30 long years. Importantly, the scheme will cover hundreds of thousands of women in lower paid jobs with poor job security, especially in hospitality and retail where there’s been very limited access to paid maternity leave.”
Attaining Paid Parental Leave was a major union and community effort, but now it is being swept away for political expediency. Unions and community groups are preparing to campaign again for what should be a basic right – to provide the best care for young children.
The QCU has launched a petition on its Stand for Queensland website:
Join mothers, fathers, strollers and prams to protest against Tony Abbott's move to strip paid parental leave payments from nearly 80,000 Australian families... details here
Paid Parental Leave petition - workplace posterDownload the poster here...
Save Paid Parental Leave PetitionThe QCU has launched a petition on its Stand for Queensland website...
Paid Parental Leave - fact sheetWhat you need to know about the Abbott Government's proposed changes to Paid Parental Leave...
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