Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee on the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (More Support for Working Families) Bill 2023

Paid Parental leave reform needs to go further to meet best practice standards
by Fiona Macdonald and Alexia Adhikari

This joint submission by the Centre for Future Work and the Nordic Policy Centre argues for immediate further reform to bring Australia’s Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme up to international best practice standards.

In this submission Fiona Macdonald, Centre for Future Work Policy Director and Alexia Adhikari, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the Australia Institute, argue that current reforms don’t go far enough and are being implemented too slowly. A proposed entitlement of 26 weeks PPL to be phased in by July 2026 is far less than the international best practice standard of 52 weeks. The two-week ‘use it or lose it’ component reserved for each parent, and which is vital to encouraging more fathers to take leave to care for babies, is too short. Parental leave pay is too low, contributing to women’s economic disadvantage and inequality.

The submission recommends that the PPL scheme be improved and extended further, including by:

  • Bringing parental leave pay up to a full replacement wage level or to the average wage, whichever is the lesser amount, and including superannuation payments.
  • Bringing forward the extension of the PPL scheme to 26 weeks from 1 July 2024 instead of July 2026 and further extending the scheme through phasing in an entitlement of 52 weeks.
  • Extending to eight weeks the ‘use it or lose it’ component of PPL.

Full submission