Access to a government paid parental leave (PPL) scheme is a hard fought right for Australian women and their families.
Many IEU members are therefore deeply concerned about the Federal Government’s attack on the right of women with an employer funded PPL scheme (such as most members in Catholic and independent schools) to access the Federal Government’s 18 weeks minimum wage PPL scheme.
Employer based parental leave has been negotiated over many years as an industrial provision, often with foregone salary or other conditions as part of the bargaining process. The national PPL is a minimal scheme intended to start to bring Australia into line with international standards.
When enacted by the then Labor Government in 2010, the Paid Parental Leave Act stated “the financial support of this Act is intended to complement and supplement existing entitlements to paid or unpaid leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child”.
The legislation clearly envisaged that women with employer schemes should be able to access the 18 weeks minimum wage scheme, while the government scheme would also be of particular benefit to women whose employers did not yet provide PPL (such as for many ECS and ELICOS members).
It is disturbing that IEU members and other working women have been called ‘double dippers’ and ‘rorters’ for accessing what is a legal entitlement, an entitlement reportedly also lawfully accessed by at least two partners of current federal government ministers. The total PPL amount after 1 July will be $11,824.20.
Many IEU members have engaged in protest actions against the government’s PPL attack, including signing petitions and attending rallies. Unions NSW has also invited input from women wishing to share their concerns about the impact of loss of access to the government PPL.
IEU members are urged to sign the ACTU petition which calls upon cross bench senators to save the federal PPL scheme by voting against the Abbott Government’s proposed cuts which may affect up to 80,000 Australian women and their families.
The ACTU petition is located at http://www.australianunions.org.au/parental_leave_petition
Members with any concerns about maternity, paternity or carer’s leave issues are welcome to contact the IEU for advice.
Pam Smith Assistant Secretary and Convenor, IEU Women in Education Committee