Parental leave payments threaten to detach women from workplace

Parental leave payments, whether funded through employers or the government, must be administered by employers or women risk being detached entirely from their workplace and losing their positions according to the Women’s Electoral Lobby.

Chair of the Women’s Electoral Lobby Australia, Melanie Fernandez said none of the parties schemes were perfect but the overriding concern from the major parties policies was that Centerlink would be handling payments not employers.

“Employers manage paying sick leave and holiday leave, so paying parental leave shouldn’t be any more difficult.

“Paid Parental Leave should be treated as a workplace entitlement like any other. Handing over payment to the Government to administer takes away significantly from the way this payment is viewed by employers and further detaches women from their place of employment during the period of leave.

“Many women are already experiencing problems with discovering they no longer have a job to go back to after taking paid parental leave and this policy would only exacerbate that issue.”

Ms Fernandez said the Women’s Electoral Lobby was seeking the following changes to the current Paid Parental Leave scheme:

  • Moving from 18 weeks to 52 weeks paid leave

  • Including superannuation payments

  • Ensuring employers administer payments

  • Encourage employers not yet doing so to “top-up” the existing scheme to full replacement earnings as part of workplace bargaining

  • Reviewing the ‘eight week break’ work test for employees

  • Adjusting the scheme to allow women the choice of taking paid leave at half pay over twice the number of weeks

  • Allow employees who have not been with the same employer for more than 12 months to access unpaid leave in order to receive parental leave payments.

Ms Fernandez said ‘recognising and valuing the contribution to our society that parents make is vital.

“An adequate Paid Parental Leave Scheme is essential to women’s access to paid work and is one step to address the persistent gender pay gap in Australia.”

 

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