NSW government ‘sets a new standard’ for parental leave

Should private companies follow its lead?

NSW government ‘sets a new standard’ for parental leave

The New South Wales government had recently announced that it would “overhaul” its paid parental leave scheme so that public sector workers across the state “will be encouraged to share childcaring responsibilities” in the household.

In a media release, NSW announced that they would remove the distinction between a “primary” or “secondary” carer. The change’s legal implication would mean that any parent (regardless of gender) working in the public sector will be entitled to at least 14 weeks paid parental leave.

The government aims that the said commitment in the 2022-23 NSW budget would “support the needs of modern families,” Premier Dominic Perrottet said.

“While most parents across Australia are entitled to paid primary parental leave, only 12 per cent of those who take it are men,” he said. “Supporting all parents to spend more precious days with their newborn children helps them form bonds that last a lifetime,” he added.

The state government also said that it would expand the period where public workers can take paid parental leave. It plans to extend it from one year until two years after birth, along with paid parental leave to long-term or permanent foster carers.

Should private companies follow its lead?

As the “largest employer” in the country, the NSW government said that it “hopes” that private companies and other states will follow its lead.

“Children don’t see their parents as ‘primary carers’ or ‘secondary carers’ – just as mums or dads,” Treasurer Matt Kean said in a statement.

“Encouraging more dads to take up parental leave is crucial to supporting all parents to be able to choose to have a career, have a family or have both,” he said.

The state’s move further envisions a “major role” in supporting the economic opportunities for women. “These changes to our parental leave offerings will encourage more equal sharing of caring responsibilities right from the start of a child’s life,” Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said.

Meanwhile, Minister for Employee Relations Damien Tudehope said he “hopes as many parents as possible take up the opportunity to spend time with their young children.”

“The NSW Government understands the needs of young families and the benefits to productivity and performance that can be unleashed by supporting employees to balance parenthood with paid work,” Tudehope said.

Other benefits

Aside from the said changes, the NSW government also announced that it would offer parents an additional two weeks’ “bonus leave” if paid parental leave entitlements are more equally shared between partners.

“The ‘bonus leave’ scheme is one of the first of its kind in Australia and will apply where each parent (including parents employed outside the public sector) takes at least 12 weeks’ parental leave and exhausts any paid parental leave offered by their employers. Single parents will be entitled to 16 weeks of paid parental leave,” the government said.

The paid parental leave reform follows the NSW government’s decision to offer public sectors five days’ fertility leave, as it acknowledges the “time demands of IVF and other reproductive treatments.”

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