Paid parental leave in Australia is evolving yet again. On its way out is the old “use it or lose it” system requiring leave to be claimed in a single 18-week chunk – any less and it’s gone – and in its place comes a newer, more flexible system, one designed to offer flexibility for mums looking to work part-time and make it easier for fathers to spend more time as the primary caretakers. The Federal Government’s paid parental leave changes were announced Tuesday by the Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer and are slated to come into effect July 1st, 2020. Though the changes won’t impact the total amount of time mums and dads get, they will impact how that time can be divided up and used.
The Current Paid Parental Leave System:
- 18 weeks of payment, set up through Centrelink. Payment comes either directly through Centrelink or through your employer.
- The entire 18 weeks paid parental leave must be taken in one block (usually right when the baby is born).
- The benefit is paid at minimum wage totalling $719.35 per week before tax.
- Available for working mothers or fathers who are the primary caretaker and earn less than $150,000 individually.
Paid Parental Leave In 2020:
- Paid Parental leave will continue to be 18 weeks and wages will remain the same.
- The change: parents can now take only 12 weeks as a block in the first year.
- The remaining six weeks after the block can be used whenever desired before the child turns two and in any increment of choice (one day a week for thirty weeks, two days a week for fifteen weeks, you get the idea).
- Basically, if you want to return to work before 18 weeks, you can. If you want to bank six weeks for the second year, you can.
The new scheme is designed to improve flexibility and allow new parents to more easily work part-time as they get adjusted to that ever-elusive work-life balance, which will likely prove to be particularly difficult with a new baby in the mix.
Of course, like most government proceedings, there is some fine print. In order for this paid parental leave policy to pass, the Coalition needs to be re-elected and then pass the new scheme through both houses.
Source: ABC News