Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Paid Parental Leave a big win for women on low incomes

For the first time in Australia’s history women on low incomes will have access to Paid Parental Leave giving them greater financial security when planning to have a baby.

The Productivity Commission found that women on low incomes, particularly women in casual jobs such as retail and hospitality, have the lowest levels of access to paid parental leave.

The Rudd Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme provides equal access to parental leave for all eligible women.

Around 30,000 working families with incomes less than $50,000 are expected to benefit from the Government’s scheme.

Women on low incomes now have the security of 18 weeks Paid Parental leave, paid at the Federal Minimum Wage (currently $570 a week).

In 2009 only 15 per cent of women earning $300 a week had access to paid parental leave, compared to almost 70 per cent of women on high wages according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Rudd Government’s scheme helps women to remain connected to the workforce while easing financial burdens so they can spend more time with their new baby in the important early months.

Paid Parental Leave will be available to Australian parents for births and adoptions on or after 1 January next year, and claims can be lodged from 1 October 2010.

This chart is from Table 20 of the ABS publication 'Employee Earnings, Benefits and Trade Union Membership', August 2009.

Source: ABS Employee Earnings, Benefits And Trade Union Membership, 6310.0, August 2009, Table 20.