Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

New details on Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme

The Australian Government today announced new details on Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme to support Australian families.

The Government will accept joint claim forms for Paid Parental Leave and other family assistance such as Family Tax Benefit and Maternity Immunisation Allowance up to three months prior to the expected date of birth or adoption. This will help parents plan for the birth of their child.

Currently family assistance claims can only be made after the birth of a child.

The Government will also introduce exceptional circumstances provisions to ensure that an eligible person who becomes the primary carer of a child under one year old (or within one year of adoption) may receive Paid Parental Leave.

These arrangements will ensure that eligible people, such as grandparents, have access to the scheme if parents are unable to care for a child, for example because of severe illness or accident.

Next week, the Government will release an exposure draft of the Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010 for public comment. This will allow the early commencement of a Senate Inquiry into the scheme.

Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme will be delivered from 1 January 2011. The scheme will be paid at the federal minimum wage – currently $543.78 per week, for up to 18 weeks.

Families have been waiting decades for a national Paid Parental Leave scheme. The Rudd Government is delivering a scheme that is fair to families and fair to business. For the first time many Australian families, particularly low income earners, seasonal, casual, contractors and the self-employed will have access to Paid Parental Leave.

Our scheme will give more parents support to spend more time at home with a new baby and help employers retain the valuable skills and experience of their staff.

To be eligible for Paid Parental Leave, a mother (or other primary carer including an adoptive parent) will need to:

  • have been engaged in work continuously for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to the expected birth or adoption of the child
  • have undertaken at least 330 hours of paid work in the 10 month period (an average of around one day of paid work a week)
  • have an adjusted taxable income of $150,000 a year or less in the previous financial year.

After 12 years of refusing to deliver paid parental leave in government, Tony Abbott now wants to hit business with a great big tax that will hurt Australia’s economy.