Maximising parental leave through Government and employer schemes

The Albanese Labor Government is committed to creating a better Australia for families by expanding Paid Parental Leave and complementing employer-led programs to maximise the leave entitlements parents can take after the birth of their child.

Ahead of World Children’s Day on November 20, data shows while access to employer-funded leave is growing, dads are still missing out – with the majority of eligibility remaining with female employees.

Of all employer-funded schemes, 50 per cent of women had access, but only 36 per cent of men had the same access.

Employer provided paid parental leave is more common in industries dominated by women.  Only half of organisations in industries dominated by men offer any form of parental leave, compared to 75 per cent of organisations in industries dominated by women.

Australian men have the second lowest uptake of primary carer leave in the developed world.

Labor’s changes to the Government Paid Parental Leave will see an additional six weeks added, bumping the total leave payable up to 26 weeks – a full six months.

Among the changes include an easier claiming process that allows either parent to be the primary claimant and better access to paid leave for parents whose partners’ don’t meet residency requirements.

Both parents will be able to claim Government-paid leave at the same time as any employer entitlement, helping families to maintain their income while caring for their child.

More than 180,000 families nationally are set to benefit.

Importantly, secondary carers will be encouraged to “use it or lose it” to facilitate more dads and partners to access PPL and share the load more evenly - particularly in the early months of a newborn’s life.

The transition will begin from July next year with structural changes to modernise the system.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said expanding Government Paid Parental Leave was an important step that would not only help families, but also benefit the broader economy.

Employer-funded leave was also an important piece of the puzzle in assisting families, she said.

“We know that treating parenting as an equal partnership helps to improve gender equality,” Minister Rishworth said.

“It is important that we have a Paid Parental Leave scheme that supports modern Australian families and that complements other parental leave schemes offered by a growing number of employers.”

UNICEF Australia’s Chief Advocate for Children Nicole Breeze said through the Government-funded Family Friendly Workplaces program, more employers were expanding parental leave to best support their employees. 

“As we approach World Children’s Day on Sunday we are pleased to highlight the overwhelming volume of research from around the world that shows Paid Parental Leave improves the health and wellbeing of the child and increases development outcomes,” Ms Breeze said.

“UNICEF Australia along with our valued partner Parents at Work have been working with companies and organisations to improve family friendly practices in the workplace, including increasing access to PPL. As a result of these efforts 315,000 people are currently employed by companies certified as Family Friendly Workplaces.”

The Government has committed $1.4 million to support 500 workplaces meet the National Work and Family Standards, create a Family Friendly Workplace culture and be certified as a Family Inclusive Workplace.

Emma Walsh, founder of the Family Friendly Workplaces Certification, said paid parental leave is a key pillar needed to embed a family friendly workplace culture.

“Both employers and government play an important role in introducing and elevating family-friendly policies to ensure workplaces can help all employees reduce work life conflict and reconcile their work and caring responsibilities,” Ms Walsh said.

“The evidence is clear, accessible and well-funded paid parental leave is crucial if we want people to stay connected to the workforce, but it’s also vital to support the health and development of children and to improve gender equality outcomes.”