Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Paid Parental Leave means a happy new year for new parents

Expectant parents will have extra reason to celebrate New Year’s Eve tonight, with Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme officially starting tomorrow.

This is a historic reform for Australian families – a reform that will see Australia finally catch up with the rest of the developed world on Paid Parental Leave.

Paid Parental Leave gives more parents the financial security to spend time at home with their new baby in the critical early months.

Already more than 7,500 families expecting babies early in 2011 have applied for Paid Parental Leave.

The scheme provides up to 18 weeks’ Government-funded parental leave pay at the National Minimum Wage (currently $570 per week before tax) for eligible parents of children born or adopted from 1 January 2011.

For many women, particularly the self-employed and those in part-time, casual, seasonal or contract work, this will be the first time they will have access to Paid Parental Leave.

To be eligible for Paid Parental Leave the primary carer must have an individual annual income of $150,000 or less and have worked prior to the birth of their baby. Applicants will meet the work test if they have worked at least 330 hours (just over one day a week) in 10 of the 13 months before the expected date of birth.

Expectant parents can lodge a claim with the Family Assistance Office up to three months before their baby’s due date.

Before lodging their claim, parents should plan their caring and leave arrangements and discuss their leave with their employer.

We expect around 148,000 Australian families will be eligible each year.

To help women stay connected to their workplace, most mothers will receive parental leave pay through their employer in their usual pay cycle – just like wages and annual leave.

The scheme is Government-funded with a net cost of around $260 million each year.

The Baby Bonus and other family payments will still be available for eligible families who do not qualify for Paid Parental Leave.

To apply or to find out more, please visit Family Assistance Office website. To make things easier for parents, claims for Family Tax Benefit and Maternity Immunisation Allowance can be lodged at the same time using a combined claim with Paid Parental Leave.