Following a long campaign by unions, expanded paid parental leave has been made law after the Senate today passed the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) Bill 2022.
The reform, which aims to support increased women’s workforce participation and help more dads and partners to take time off work to be with their children, will give more families access to the payment and parents more flexibility in how they take leave. It also encourages parents to share care to promote gender equality.
Under the changes, parents will be able claim Parental Leave Pay easier, with either parent able to claim first. Parents will also be able to access the entitlement in multiple blocks, as small as one day, with periods of work in between.
Figures show around 180,000 Australian families access the benefit each year.
“Paid Parental Leave is vital for the health and wellbeing of parents and their children,” Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said.
“We know that investing in paid parental leave benefits our economy. And we know that done right, paid parental leave – both Government and employer schemes – can advance gender equality.”
Meanwhile, a new family income test of $350,000 per annum will also see nearly 3,000 additional parents become eligible for the entitlement.
Employers will benefit from the increased flexibility for employees to balance work and care, and they will not face any new regulatory burden when administering the payment to their staff, the Government says.
The changes will come into effect for parents whose children are born or adopted from 1 July 2023. Single parents will now be able to receive the full 20-week entitlement, up from 18- weeks currently.
Parents will be able to pre-claim up to three months before the expected date of birth or adoption to bypass any delay to receiving payment. Pre-claims will be open from the end of March.
The Government will also bring forward additional legislation before July next year to increase the scheme to 26 weeks by 2026.
More information about the Government’s Paid Parental Leave changes can be found on the Department of Social Services website.