Last year the government announced cuts to the paid parental leave scheme starting in January next year. So far though, the coalition has not been able to get the legislation through the senate.
Needless to say, a lot of expecting families have been hoping the senate will remain steadfast in blocking the legislation.
Unfortunately for them, the government’s deal-makers have been negotiating successfully with the new senate cross benchers to pass new laws and the paid parental leave scheme is squarely in their sights.
So now expecting mums are in limbo again, unsure how their family budgets will be affected.
Here’s the situation in brief.
The current law
The government currently pays 18 weeks of maternity leave – at the minimum wage – to new parents earning less then $150,000 per year. This amounts to $11,826 in total, and is paid on top of any employer maternity leave entitlements.
The changes announced last year
From January next year, the government would only ‘top-up’ any employer maternity leave. If, for example, a new mum is entitled to 8 weeks paid maternity leave from her employer, the government would only pay for the other 10 weeks.
The revised changes
Reportedly, government negotiators are proposing extending the ‘top-up’ to 20 weeks rather than 18, and moving the start date to October next year (so currently expecting mums aren’t affected).
So the new proposal is certainly better but it will still cost lots of families thousands of dollars. After all, the government is hoping to save $600-$750 million and that all comes from working families.
Is there anything you can do about it?
You can start talking to your employer. Get all the potential mums in your company involved. The reason employers pay parental leave is to give you additional reasons to work for them, so it may be possible to structure employee incentives differently so that you can keep the government payments.