Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Paid Parental Leave: Before & After

You may have already implemented a parental leave policy or working parents toolkit for your workplace and understand the support required surrounding parental leave to successfully retain and transition your working parents.

A new report shows that the Gillard Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme is making a real difference for mothers, particularly those who need financial help the most.

The Baseline Mothers Survey surveyed more than 2,500 mothers across the country to assess their situation before the Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme began.
It found that only about half of working women had access to paid maternity leave before the Government introduced our Paid Parental Leave scheme. Now, 95 per cent of working women have access to paid parental leave – either from the Government or their employer or both.

Almost all (94 per cent) of those women who didn’t have access to paid parental leave before – particularly casual workers, the self-employed and those working in smaller businesses – are now eligible for the Government’s scheme.

Since the Government’s scheme began on 1 January 2011, half of the mothers who have received Paid Parental Leave earned less than $43,700 in the year before their baby was born.

The survey found that concerns over financial pressures in the household were a key factor in women’s return to work, with 59 per cent of mothers saying they returned to work earlier than they would have liked because of financial stresses.

More than 160,000 expectant and new parents have now applied for the Gillard Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Less than a third of fathers had access to paid parental leave, according to mothers surveyed.

The Best Practice Guide released by the fairwork ombudsman states all best practice parental leave policies should include details about keeping in touch when an employee is on leave. Good communication arrangements can help an employee on leave feel attached to the workplace, their career and their colleagues. 

One of the suggested ways to do this is to implement a stay-in-touch program, currently offered by mums@work. This will ensure the communication lines are open at all stages of the pregnancy, planning stages and throughout parental leave.

The Guide also suggests a successful parental leave policy should incorporate innovative and flexible arrangements that assist parents before, during and after a period of parental leave. 
From next year, the Gillard Government is extending Paid Parental Leave to fathers through Dad and Partner Pay, giving fathers and other partners two weeks paid at the rate of the national minimum wage.

This historic reform, delivered by the Australian Government, gives parents more options to balance work and family, helps employers to retain skilled staff, and helps boost workforce participation.

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