Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Women on low incomes benefit most from Paid Parental Leave

Women on low incomes will have greater financial security when planning to have a baby under the Rudd Government’s historic Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Our Paid Parental Leave scheme reflects this year’s theme for International Women’s Day of ‘Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all’.

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

Paid Parental Leave will provide equal access to paid parental leave for all eligible women. It will especially benefit women on low incomes who have traditionally had low access to paid maternity leave.

The Rudd Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme will provide 18 weeks postnatal leave, paid at the Federal Minimum Wage (currently $543.78 a week).

The Productivity Commission found that women who earn less than the Federal Minimum Wage have low access to employer paid maternity leave schemes and are more likely to resign from their jobs to have a baby.

The Productivity Commission also found that industries which are female dominated and highly casualised such as retail and hospitality, have the lowest levels of access to paid parental leave.

In 2008 only 17 per cent of women on very low wages had access to paid parental leave, compared to 70 per cent of women on high wages according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme is a huge step forward for women in Australia.

It will allow women to remain connected to the workforce while easing financial burdens so they can spend more time with their new baby, which is crucial for the new baby’s health and development.

The scheme will be available to employees including full-time and part-time staff, contractors, casual workers and the self-employed who have:

  • worked for at least 10 of the 13 months before the expected date of birth;
  • worked equivalent to around one full day of work each week (at least 330 hours in those 10 months);
  • earned, as the primary carer, $150,000 or less in the financial year before the birth

The Paid Parental Leave scheme will be available to parents for births and adoptions on or after 1 January 2011, and claims can be lodged from 1 October 2010