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Government initiates bill to expand unpaid parental leave

By Josh Needs | |5 minute read

The government has introduced a bill to Parliament to expand unpaid parental leave and provide greater flexibility for families.

Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Tony Burke said the Protecting Worker Entitlements Bill would increase unpaid parental leave entitlements from 30 to 100 days.

“The message at last year’s Jobs and Skills Summit was clear: parental leave needs to be fairer, more flexible and more generous,” said Mr Burke.


“The government’s changes will increase an employee’s entitlement to flexible unpaid parental leave from 30 days to 100 days.

“Pregnant employees will also be able to take some of their flexible unpaid parental leave starting six weeks prior to the expected date of birth of the child, making it easier for them to balance work and prepare for birth.”

Mr Burke said the bill would also remove the restrictions that currently prevent couples from taking more than eight weeks of unpaid parental leave at the same time.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said that while the organisation supported greater help for soon-to-be parents, it was concerned that when proposing the expanded entitlements, the impact on employers had not been considered.

“While industry is supportive of measures to help employees balance work and parenting responsibilities, we are concerned that they don’t appear to be accompanied by sufficient measures that ensure that these expanded entitlements operate in a balanced and practical manner,” said Mr Willox.

“Most employers are keen to accommodate the needs of working parents; they do need the ability to manage staff absences in a reasonable way. Parental leave is important but should not be unworkable for business.”

Mr Burke said the change would also promote gender equality allowing for greater shared caring responsibilities of the child in its early years.

CPA spokeswoman Dr Jane Rennie said that in order to reach gender equality, there still needed to be superannuation paid on parental leave.

“Super is paid on other forms of leave, including annual leave and sick leave. Super should be paid on parental leave,” said Dr Rennie.

“Paying super on parental leave will help reduce inequality for parents who are financially impacted when they take time off work to raise the next generation.

“Women retire with lower superannuation balances than men and have less financial security in retirement. Taking time out of the workforce to raise children unfairly exacerbates the gender super gap.”

A poll of almost 2,000 respondents conducted by CPA Australia found 82 per cent believed superannuation should be paid on parental leave.

“There is overwhelming public support for paying super on paid parental leave,” said Dr Rennie.

“The poll results are clear — people want change. This is not about an isolated group of people missing out. The gender super gap is a systemic issue that needs action right now from the federal government.”

This article was originally published on HR Leader’s sister brand, Accountants Daily.


Parental leave

Parental leave is a benefit offered to employees that allows for job-protected time off from work to care for a kid once the child is born or adopted.