IEU members are outraged by the Abbott Government’s attack on the rights of women to access the Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme.
Members, their families and their students will be affected by this proposal now and into the future.
The Abbott Government announced in May it would stop workers accessing the PPL scheme from supplementing any existing employer entitlements they may have beyond the maximum 18 weeks leave paid at the minimum wage. Many IEU members could stand to lose up to $11,824.
McCarthy Catholic College Emu Plains Maths and Science Teacher Elizabeth Heggart has just given birth to baby Sophia.
She is entitled to 14 weeks paid leave from her employer plus 18 weeks from the PPL scheme. Using some long service leave, she plans to take off a full year.
“Without the PPL I would have had to return to work after six months, which is not good,” Elizabeth said.
“Being able to spend a whole year with Sophia watching her growing and learning in the first year of life is important.
“It’s disgusting that the Abbott Government is making a bid to get rid of that entitlement and making mothers out to be fraudsters. It’s all about allowing more women time at home with their babies.
“On the one hand the Government says it wants to support families, and on the other its takes time away from mothers.”
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. Put simply, IEU members paid for the provision of paid maternity leave.
The national PPL is a minimal scheme intended to start to bring Australia into line with international standards.
It is disturbing that IEU members and other working women have been portrayed by Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey as “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.
More recently Federal Community Services Minister Scott Morrison trivialised women’s concerns, labelling them “first world problems”.
The OECD average paid maternity leave is 17 weeks. The scheme includes financial contributions from government and employers and aims to meet the World Health Organisation recommendations for at least six months paid leave for parents to promote child and maternal health, build strong families and help mothers stay in the workforce.
The current scheme of up to 18 weeks paid parental leave puts Australia slightly above the OECD average. Any reduction will result in Australia slipping in global rankings. Before Labor introduced the scheme in 2011, Australia was one of only two developed nations not to have a PPL scheme for working parents, something unions spent 30 years campaigning for.
The Abbott Government’s Fairer PPL Amendment Bill was introduced into Federal Parliament in June and is now subject to a Senate enquiry.
Under the Bill claimants will now have to inform the Department of Human Services of any primary care pay they are entitled to from their employer.
The IEU is lobbying hard against the cuts and needs your support to stop the Bill being passed.
When enacted by the then Labor Government in 2010, the Paid Parental Leave Act stated its purpose as ‘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 many IEU ECS and ELICOS members.)
We must act to save this scheme. Follow the campaign at www.ieu.asn.au