The Parenthood welcomes the introduction of the Federal Government's bill aimed at incrementally rolling out an expanded paid parental leave. We are grateful for the opportunity to submit our input on the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023.
Paid parental leave is profoundly important. Bringing a baby home is life-changing and paid leave enables parents to recover from childbirth, bond with their baby and adjust to their new life. The caring pattern set in the early years persists over the course of a child’s life so how parents use that time has a huge impact longer term.
The expansion of paid parental leave (PPL) from 18 to 26 weeks by 2026 is a commendable step toward supporting Australian families, but there is still much ground to cover. The recognition of PPL as a critical lever in shaping caring patterns within households is pivotal.
However, the journey doesn't end at 26 weeks. While the increase is a positive move, Australia falls short of the OECD average, and more ambitious targets are needed to truly empower parents. The Parenthood advocates for a phased approach toward a 52-week PPL scheme, paid at a replacement wage rate, equally shared between parents. Such an extended and balanced PPL scheme has far-reaching benefits for children, parents, workplaces, and the economy.
Furthermore, the call to extend the superannuation guarantee to PPL addresses a critical gap in supporting women's economic security. Recognising unpaid care work's enormous value and the gendered impact it has on superannuation, this proposal aligns with the broader goal of achieving equality between men and women in the workforce.
Reforming paid parental leave is one of the key levers in a government’s toolkit to influence caring patterns set in homes and families. By supporting parents to share the responsibilities of caregiving in the first year of a child’s life, an equitable paid parental leave policy is a gamechanger for mums, dads and children. It gives parents the ability to truly share the care.
The proposal for a six-week 'use it or lose it' provision aims to incentivise shared caregiving and, importantly, encourage greater PPL uptake by fathers. This not only aligns with global trends but also contributes to breaking down gender stereotypes and promoting more equitable work-life balance. Recognising the important role that men can play as caregivers is key to dismantling one very stubborn barrier to women’s workforce participation. At the risk of oversimplifying men sharing the load at home, means women can share the load at work.
Read our submission to the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023 here.