Working parents are set to benefit from a historic reform to paid parental leave.
In changes announced in the 2010 Federal Budget, the Labor Government is investing $731 million over five years to deliver a Paid Parental Leave scheme for the first time.
From 1 January 2011, eligible parents will receive taxable payments at the rate of the Federal Minimum Wage for up to 18 weeks. This will be paid for by the government, not businesses.
The Paid Parental Leave scheme enables is designed to assist parents in maintaining links with their employer and to receive an income whilst nurturing their child. Currently Australia is one of the only countries in the world which does not to have a scheme to pay working parents taking time off to raise a baby.
Marian Baird, associate professor or work and organisation at Sydney University, welcomed the changes, but said employer can still do much more to boost the retention of working parents.
“[The Paid Parental Leave scheme] helps women at the lower end of the job market and is a good move for social equity. But it is important for employers to pay attention to all types of flexible working arrangements. This change is an important plank of legislation but employers have the potential to add to it and make themselves an employer of choice,” she said.
The Budget papers said measures would be put into place to ensure employers met their obligations under the Paid Parental Leave scheme including making payments to staff as required. Around $3.2 million will be put towards publicising the scheme so bosses and workers understood their rights and responsibilities.
Treasurer Wayne Swan, said: “To ensure Australians can participate in work, and participate in our recovery, we must ensure they can balance their family commitments.
“This is an historic reform, it is long overdue, and it will help us meet the participation challenge imposed on us by our ageing population.”