Milk of kindness drying up
IN the wake of Social Services Minister Christian Porter’s reintroduction of legislation to reduce access to 18 weeks Paid Parental Leave (PPL) for new mothers, experts warn a reduction in entitlements is taking us backwards, while local members of parliament say the changes will be more equitable for employees.
Curtin University Associate Professor in the Department of Taxation Helen Hodgson said the bill would put unnecessary pressure on women, and could reduce work place reintegration and mental health.
“The original purpose was always for (PPL) to be complementary to anything the employer was providing,” Dr Hodgson said.
“(Christian Porter) is wrong when he says PPL is about getting women back into the workforce: it’s a policy about health and wellbeing and allowing women the time to prepare to re-enter without the financial pressure.
“The best way to encourage a woman back is to support them… some evaluations say PPL topping up to 26 weeks gets women back into the workforce sooner.”
Tangney MHR Ben Morton said changing the legislation was about equity.
“The Coalition policy makes paid parental leave more equitable and better targets taxpayers’ money to people who don’t receive paid parental leave from their employer, or who only have modest employer-provided arrangements,” he said.
He said only those with generous employer schemes – estimated to be 4 per cent – would lose out on a Federal supplement.
“Taxpayer-funded paid parental leave for a parent without access to any employer scheme remains unchanged; they receive 18 weeks at the minimum wage, roughly $12,000,” he said.
Dr Hodgson rejected women were “double-dipping”, saying people were asking the wrong questions.
“People seem to think women seeking PPL are getting more money than they already earn but that is not the case,” she said.
“The scheme is 18 weeks at minimum wage on the back of what an employee offers topping it up to 26 weeks off; it’s appropriate to refer to (PPL) as a supplement.”
United Voice WA secretary Carolyn Smith said “Australian women have one of the least generous paid parental leave schemes in the world” and the cuts would put Australia further behind.