The Federal Government has announced major reforms to paid parental leave, allowing primary carers to stagger how they take their payments rather than all in one go.
However, the start date isn’t until mid 2020 – after the next election.
Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer, a mother of young children herself, described reforms to government-funded parental leave as a “game-changer.”
Currently, parental leave is taken as an 18-week block, and parents will still be able to do that.
Otherwise, you can take a 12-week block in the first year, then the remaining six weeks in the second year can be staggered.
It can be taken as one or two days a week, or even whole weeks split up over the year.
“This is a practical and commonsense move,” Ms O’Dwyer said.
The reforms appear to be popular with mothers.
“It gives the mothers a choice, it’s great,” one mum said.
The payment is the same as the minimum wage, around $720 a week, and separate to any employer-funded scheme.
The government says the reform is about flexibility, giving primary carers options as they navigate a return to the workforce.
Tuesday’s announcement was a pre-election sweetener targeting the family vote.
Other promises in the Women’s Economic Security Statement include measures to help domestic violence victims access early superannuation.
“It’s modest, it’s welcome, but we could do better,” Marie Coleman from The National Foundation of Australian Women said.
The Opposition says the statement does nothing to reduce the gender pay gap and tackle economic inequality, with Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek calling it “an enormous missed opportunity.”