In welcome news for new and aspiring parents, the federal government has announced a plan to gradually increase paid parental leave across the Australia to 26 weeks – approximately six-months – compared to the just over four-months currently entitled. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese took to social media to announce the news late last week.
The Prime Minister formally announced the new policy at the New South Wales State Labor conference over the weekend, saying that “one of the best ways to boost productivity and participation across our economy is to provide more choice and more support for families and more opportunity for women.”
"This is a modern policy to support modern families. We know that investing in parental leave benefits our economy. It is good for productivity and participation, it's good for families and it's good for our country as a whole," he said.
"More generous and more flexible paid parental leave rewards aspiration and provides every parent of a new baby with greater choice and better support."
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Who is covered under the paid parental leave Australia scheme?
Those expecting a child imminently will not be covered under the scheme, however the government has proposed it will expand the initiative by two weeks every year from July 1, 2024, until parental leave reaches the full 26 weeks in July 2026. As part of the policy, the government will maintain its “use it or lose it” weeks, encouraging more fathers and partners to access paid parental leave, meaning both parents can share the early days of a child’s life equitably. The 26 weeks can also be taken in blocks if so chosen, and single parents will be entitled to the full leave offered to a two-person couple.
Social Services Minister, Amanda Rishworth, said this will encourage women’s workforce participation and encourage more fathers to take parental leave, a priority for the government.
"This will benefit mums, it will benefit dads, it's good for children, and it will be a huge boost to the economy," said Rishworth. "We know that treating parenting as an equal partnership helps to improve gender equality. It is important that we have a Paid Parental Leave scheme that supports modern Australian families and that complements other parental leave schemes offered by a growing number of employers."
When will further details be available?
More details of the increased paid parental leave scheme will be announced in the Federal Budget on October 25.