Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

The countdown to Paid Parental Leave begins

The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, today met families and expectant parents for a baby shower at the Melbourne Museum to celebrate the imminent start of Australia’s first national Paid Parental Leave scheme.

The celebration marked a historic reform which sees Australia catch up with the rest of the developed world by providing a Paid Parental Leave scheme.

The scheme will give thousands of new parents each year the financial support to make their own choices about work and family responsibilities when their baby is born.

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

Already nearly 6,500 families expecting babies early in 2011 have applied for Paid Parental Leave.

I know how busy it can be for new parents when a baby arrives, so to make things easier, parents can lodge their claims up to three months before their baby’s due date. I encourage eligible parents to get in early and apply today.

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.

For many part-time, casual, contract and self-employed workers this will be the first time they will have access to paid parental leave.

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

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

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.

Expectant parents can claim Paid Parental Leave at Family Assistance Office website

As at 17 December there have been 6,465 claims for the Paid Parental Leave scheme. The table below shows the state/territory breakdown for these claims.*

ACT NSW NT Qld SA Tas Vic WA Total
166 2,017 56 1,321 459 128 1,646 665 6,465

*NB State and Territory columns do not add to total number of claims as there have been 7 claims come from other Australian territories and/or people who are temporarily overseas.