Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme – casual workers to benefit

Casual workers are set to be big winners from the Rudd Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme. To help seasonal, contract and casual workers access Paid Parental Leave, parents who are not employed at the time of the birth of their child but have satisfied the work test will be eligible.

Many seasonal, contract and casual workers may not be in regular work and may not be in work immediately before the birth of their child.

We also know from our extensive consultations that women in physically demanding jobs, such as casual retail and hospitality workers, can not always continue to work in the later stages of their pregnancy.

Under our scheme, an eligible mother who is a contract worker but whose contract finishes before her baby is born will still receive parental leave pay.

Women are more likely to be casual workers and make up almost 57 per cent of all casual employees in Australia.

Almost 25 per cent of women work in casual jobs and receive no paid leave entitlements (Australian Bureau of Statistics, November 2009).

Eligible parents not employed at the time of the birth of their child will be paid directly by the Family Assistance Office.

Our scheme encourages women to remain connected to the workforce and boosts economic participation. Most women will receive government-funded parental leave pay through their employers as per their normal pay arrangements.

The scheme also requires women to meet the work test for each child. To meet the parental work test, employees need to:

  • work for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption of a child; and
  • work at least 330 hours in that 10 month period (just over one day a week).

From 1 January 2011, the Rudd Government will deliver Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Australian families have been waiting decades for a Paid Parental Leave scheme.

For 12 years in government, Tony Abbott refused to deliver a paid parental leave scheme and now he wants to hit business with a great big tax.

The Government’s scheme is fair for families and fair to business.