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Paid parental leave: Will reforms in Australia close the gender pay gap?

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As an early childhood teacher, Kelly Arnott-Goddard was able to take her baby to work with her when she returned to her post six months after giving birth.
After taking 18 weeks of paid federal government parental leave earlier this year, she and her husband Jake relied on his income so she could spend an extra two months at home caring for their first child, a son named Bear.
“The assurance that he [Bear] would have been with me would have definitely helped me get back to work faster,” she said.
“But bridging that gap where we had to rely on one salary would be very helpful, especially given how expensive it is to live in Sydney.”
Ms Arnott-Goddard said she welcomed the Albanian government’s announcement on Saturday to this effect in the phased plan, which is scheduled to be in place by July 2026, and hoped it would benefit her when they decide to expand their family.

“We could split it between the two of us and I could take four months and my husband could take two – not only would it be good for me to get back to work sooner but also for him and the baby to develop a bond “, she said. said.

Mrs. Arnott-Goddard was able to take her son with her to work at the kindergarten. Source: Delivered

Under the new scheme, lone parents will also be able to access the full 26 weeks of leave, while leave will be made more flexible and fathers will be able to take it in blocks between periods of paid work.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the policy change would support “modern” families and give them more choice.
“We know that investing in parental leave benefits our economy,” he said.
“It’s good for productivity and participation, it’s good for families and it’s good for our country as a whole.”
Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the pay increase would help grow the economy by making it easier for parents to stay in the workplace.

“We’ve long called for reform of the paid parental leave system because giving new parents enough time and encouraging an equal sharing of care is good for the economy and good for families,” she said.

Australian Council of Trade Unions president Michelle O’Neill said the more generous leave scheme was a big step forward for parents.
“Paid parental leave should be flexible and accessible to all parents, and this new scheme is a big improvement in that regard,” she said.
But Ms O’Neill said the union body would continue its campaign for paid parental leave at the full replacement rate of workers’ pay, including pensions.
Greens senate leader Larissa Waters called on the government to implement reforms immediately and increase the seniority pay.
“Australia has one of the weakest parental leave schemes in the world – yes, it should be paid for longer, but without super or an increase in pay, women are still losing out,” she said.

“And phasing it in over four years is an insult when women have waited more than a decade for decent paid parental leave.”

A blonde woman in a black dress is speaking in the Senate

Greens senator Larissa Waters is among those calling for the paid parental leave scheme to include a pension scheme. Source: AAP / MICK TIKAS

Ms Waters said she was backing out of what was planned will help fund the proposed increase.

A seven-year timetable for personal income tax cuts in three stages was laid out by then-Treasurer Scott Morrison in the 2018 federal budget.
The plan, which has already been passed into law, calls for eliminating the 37 percent tax rate, introducing a 30 percent flat tax rate for those earning between $45,000 and $200,000.
It will cost the budget 244 billion dollars over 10 years.

A comparison of paid parental leave in Australia with other countries

Parenting advocacy group The Parenthood said Australia has one of the lowest paid parental leave schemes in the world, currently offering just 20 weeks at the minimum wage.
In most cases, the carer (often the mother) receives 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage of $812.45 through Centrelink, plus any paid leave from the employer.

A non-primary carer can also take two weeks of state-paid leave at the same minimum wage, but must not work or take employer-paid leave during this period.

Of the 38 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 31 countries offer longer paid maternity leave than Australia, with the following countries offering the highest: Slovak Republic (164 weeks), Finland (161 weeks) . ) and Hungary (160 weeks).
“Across the OECD, the average length of paid leave that fathers have access to is more than 50 weeks, so the package currently being considered will not put Australia at odds with that average,” The Parenthood chief executive Georgie Dent said.

“But what’s important is that no significant changes have been made in 11 years and it’s also important that the Prime Minister has said that this is just a starting point that they would like to build from.”

Parenthood chief executive Georgie Dent welcomed the reforms to the paid parental leave scheme.

Parenthood chief executive Georgie Dent welcomed the reforms to the paid parental leave scheme. Source: Delivered

Ms Dent said important changes to the scheme had helped to better close the gender pay gap, such as encouraging more parents to take extended leave.

According to the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the gender pay gap is 14.1 per cent.
Earnings data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in August showed men earned an average of $263.90 more per week than women.
“Fathers in Australia take less than 20 per cent of their paternity leave days as their global peers, and it’s not because they don’t want to spend more time in that important first year of a child’s life,” she said.
“Unsurprisingly, in countries around the world where they have offered extended parental leave to parents as part of the norm, the well-being of children, mothers and fathers has improved.”
The government has said it will continue with the use-it-or-lose-it weeks to encourage and support more dads and partners to get PPL so that both parents can share care responsibilities more equally.

More details about the parental leave plan will be announced in the Budget later this month.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/australias-paid-parental-leave-scheme-is-being-extended-but-will-it-close-the-gender-pay-gap/ja8svk1q0

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