Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Opposition playing politics with Paid Parental Leave

The Opposition’s Paid Parental Leave (Reduction of Compliance Burden for Employers) Amendment Bill 2010 is creating significant uncertainty for Australian families who have been waiting decades for Paid Parental Leave.

The Bill, to be debated in the House of Representatives today, is an attempt to disrupt and confuse the introduction of Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme on 1 January next year.

The Opposition are showing once again that they are wreckers.

Australian families and businesses are counting on Paid Parental Leave to start on 1 January.

More than 2000 applications for paid parental leave have already been received from parents expecting a baby in the New Year.

Business is also looking forward to the benefits of the Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme, with 550 employers already signed up to provide government-funded parental leave pay. Around two thirds of these employers are choosing to start playing their part before the on-going payment arrangements for long term employees start on 1 July.

Under the government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme, leave payments would be made by businesses for their long term employees. These arrangements are being phased in over the first six months of 2011.

We believe paid parental leave is a workplace entitlement – just like annual leave or sick leave – and like other leave, should be paid through employers.

Our scheme is fair to business and is based on the expert recommendations of the Productivity Commission.

The Productivity Commission recommended this model because it will help employers retain skilled staff and boost workforce participation.

It’s important for women to maintain a connection to the workplace when they take time off to have a baby.

The Australian Government has consulted widely with business and taken a number of steps to make their role in the scheme easy.

Employers will receive funds from the Government before they are required to pass to it onto their employees, and will make payments in line with the employee’s usual pay cycle.

Employers will provide government-funded parental leave pay to their long term employees on a ‘business as usual’ basis – no special rules or special bank accounts.

This Bill is a political stunt by an Opposition who claim to support Australian business when in fact their parental leave policy would whack a big new tax on business.