FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Caution urged on Abbott Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme
February 11, 2014 -
The National Foundation for Australian Women and economicSecurity4Women have urged the Federal Government to refer its contentious Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Scheme to the Productivity Commission Review on Childcare.
The new PPL Scheme is due to commence on 1 July 2015 if legislation passes the Senate, however a number of key women’s organisations believe it should be linked closely with any major reforms on childcare – which has a much greater impact on the capacity of women to work and care than PPL.
Ms Marie Coleman, social policy spokesperson for NFAW, said PPL and the provision of quality affordable childcare are key factors in workforce planning and productivity for Australian companies and it was imperative to get them right.
“NFAW and economicSecurity4Women believe there is an opportunity with the Productivity Commission already reviewing childcare to add PPL to its terms of reference and get a better outcome for working parents.”
“While we cautiously welcome both the extended period of leave and the increased payments to qualifying carers provided for in the new PPL legislation, there are a range of matters that remain unanswered and would benefit from a broad based review.”
Ms Coleman said the NFAW has written to Ministers outlining additional items it would like to see included in the legislation, in particular an independent evaluation of the extent to which the changed approach impacts on workforce participation.
“We have also suggested an extensive education campaign for employers and employees within the SME sector where many will for the first time will experience competitive paid parental leave conditions,” Ms Coleman said.
NFAW and economicSecurity4Women have noted the Government assurances that:
· It will consult with business groups, unions, superannuation and women’s organisations, not-for-profit representatives, rural groups and state and territory governments ahead of the introduction of the legislation.
It does not intend to displace existing paid parental leave schemes provided under industrial agreements, but will take on an employer’s responsibility to provide the payment and superannuation up to the PPL wage amount.
Employee entitlements set out in existing enterprise agreements will not be affected – employees will not lose any conditions they already receive.
Employers will continue to be allowed to determine their own policies including offering top-ups to attract staff.
As the costs of providing payments during parental leave is lifted off employers, they will be directed to/encouraged to invest in other work/family policies
All eligible men and women will receive the same minimum payment during leave – that is, their actual wage, or national minimum wage if higher, for 26 weeks.
Marie Coleman, Chair Social Policy Committee NFAW, T 0414483067 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sandra Cook, Chair, economicSecurity4Women, T 0409 608344 email: Sandra.Cook@corum.com.au
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