The ACTU welcomes the opportunity to make a submission on the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) Bill 2022 (the Bill) to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee. The Bill implements the first stage of changes promised by the Federal Government to the Commonwealth Paid Parental Scheme (PPL) in the October 2022-23 Budget, which will ultimately see PPL increased to 26 weeks by 2026 (increasing by two weeks per year).
The ACTU fully supports the Bill, which implements important reforms to the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (Cth) (the Act) to make PPL more accessible, more flexible and gender-neutral, including:
The Bill is the first step in delivering crucial reforms to PPL that have been advocated for by unions and others for many years. The ACTU also welcomes and commends the commitment to increase PPL to 26 weeks by 2026.
However, there is a lot more to be done to improve and expand Australia’s PPL scheme. Extending the scheme to 52 weeks by 2030, increasing the rate of pay from its low level of the National Minimum Wage, providing incentives for shared parenting, and paying super on top are all changes that are necessary to increase women’s workforce participation, facilitate more equal sharing of caring responsibilities between men and women, and close the gender pay gap. Furthermore, more needs to be done to strengthen the rights of working parents and carers.
The ACTU makes the following recommendations that will strengthen both the Bill and Australia’s PPL scheme and broader parental leave framework.