Ask a nerd: paid parental leave

Amy: "Who will ensure that women don't get screwed over (and men because they will have to support the family on their own) when a baby is on the way? Who is looking after maternity leave better so we can have families without the stress and rushing back to work within a month?"

&

"I am a young mum (25) how will each party affect the future for myself and my child."


Hello !

Thanks for your question, I've done my best to answer it.

Maternity/parental leave was a major policy focus in the 2013 federal election but has been far quieter in this upcoming one. The news has barely reported on it as have the politicians themselves. That would be because we already have a parental leave law and scheme, and there is relatively little appetite by politicians to change it now.

BACKGROUND

To compare maternity/parental leave policy, we should first take a look at what it currently is and a brief background and history of how we got here. Then we can take a look at what the parties have said they would offer coming into the election.

The current paid parental leave scheme was introduced back 2011 under a Labor Government, where they introduced 18 weeks of federal government-funded paid parental leave into law. The payout to the primary carer of the baby is equivalent to the national minimum wage.

This could be supplemented by a carer’s employer, who could choose to add to their employees’ paid parental leave. For example an employer could offer 6 weeks of maternity/parental leave in addition to the 18 weeks supplied by the government, bringing it to 24 weeks of paid leave after the birth of their child.

Coming into the 2013 federal election, the Coalition under Tony Abbott was offering a more generous package in which they offered 6 months of maternity leave at the full pay of the primary carer, capping at a salary of $150,000 per year. However if the father was the primary carer, he would receive payments according to the mother’s salary.

The Coalition government was unable to pass this policy into law and eventually scrapped it. After replacing Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull has not sought to revive this policy.

PARENTAL LEAVE AFTER THE ELECTION

The Liberal Government website does not provide any information about their plans on maternity leave. However, they have been moving to prevent primary carers from receiving paid parental leave from both the government and their employer, calling it ‘double dipping’. This hasn’t come into effect yet so double-dip while you can.

As for Labor, they are planning to keep the current scheme they introduced in 2011 – double-dipping and all. 

The Greens policy which was proposed in the 2013 federal election most closely resembles that of the original Coalition parental leave scheme. The scheme will provide for 6 months of government-funded paid leave at 100% of the primary carer’s regular wage, capped at a salary of $100,000 per annum. This includes superannuation and 2 weeks paid leave for the secondary carer at 100% of their wage. According to Greens Senator Larissa Waters, this proposal is still being supported by the Greens after its introduction in 2013 .

More info

You may also be interested in checking out the organisation 'The Parenthood'. They have done some work comparing party policy on paid parental leave, childcare and family tax benefits that you can check out here

Obviously, as a parent these are not the only issues impacting your life. Check out some other topics like housing affordability, primary school education and climate change here

Hope this helps!

Levi at Y Vote.