Men could get up to 20 weeks of tax-payer funded paternity leave under a bold new ‘gender equity’ scheme being considered by Anthony Albanese
- The Labor government is reviewing expanding parental leave entitlements
- Under the amended rules men could access five months of paid paternity leave
- Family groups are calling for even more and pushing for 12 months of paid leave
New fathers could get up to 20 weeks of government-funded job leave to be used at any point before their child turns two under a new plan to close the gender gap.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said she and the newly elected Labor government were ‘keen’ to review the rules to better meet the needs of modern Australian families.
Under current paid parental leave rules the ‘primary caregiver’ receives 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage – which in a straight relationship is defined as the mother unless in exceptional situations.
Fathers can only access two weeks of paid paternity leave which critics argue incentivises women to care for newborns and men to keep working.
Men could be able to access 20 weeks of government funded paternity leave under changes to the current system (stock image)
In the previous Morrison government’s latest budget they moved to allow couples to combine these two leave allowances and use the 20 weeks as they see fit.
Ms Rishworth said she was currently reviewing that plan to make sure there were no unforeseen consequences, but that she supports it.
‘Society has changed. A lot more men do want to play a role. And a lot of men do say they want to be the primary caregiver for some period of time,’ she told The Australian.
‘I’m having a really good look at what can be done with paid parental leave,’ she said.
Family advocacy group The Parenthood wants the government to go even further.
It has launched a petition calling for 12 months of parental leave to be shared between new parents with full pay and superannuation.
Labor’s Social Services Minister said the Albanese government backed a plan brought in by the previous Liberal government to allow parents to share the 20 weeks of leave however they wanted (pictured: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and girlfriend Jodie Haydon)
Executive Director Georgie Dent said that removing the notion of a primary and secondary caregiver and allowing parents to share the responsibilities equally was vital for new families and for gender equity.
She also praised some companies which are leading the way by offering parental leave above and beyond what the government mandates.
‘There has been an effort among some corporations in Australia to encourage dads to take extended parental leave… offering 18 weeks of paid leave to any parent within the first 12 months of the baby coming. And flexibility about how and when that’s taken,’ she said.
For example if a new father wants to take a few weeks of paid leave after his baby is born and then another few weeks several months later some workplaces are fine with this, she added.
She also said Australia needs to catch up with the rest of the world.
Australian fathers take the least amount of paternity leave in the developed world, second only to the US.
Georgie Dent (pictured) from families advocacy group The Parenthood wants the government to go even further and provide 12 months of parental leave with full pay
Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Mary Wooldridge said men taking paternity leave benefitted not just them but society.
‘The research shows that men being more actively involved in childcare increases their wellbeing and happiness,’ Ms Wooldridge said.
‘It also shows that when men take parental leave, they’re more likely to participate in childcare on an ongoing basis and have a more equitable division of unpaid work at home.’
‘This is very positive to both them and their relationship with their children, and also enables women to have greater choices in terms of returning to work.
‘And from an organisational perspective, it’s shown to increase job satisfaction and productivity.’
COMPANIES THAT OFFER THE MOST PAID PARENTAL LEAVE
KPMG: 26 weeks
Diageo: 26 weeks
King & Wood Mallesons: 26 weeks
Stockland: 20 weeks
Mirvac: 20 weeks for primary carers in a shared care model
Deloitte: 18 weeks
Tabcorp: 18 weeks
DLA Piper: 18 weeks
Medibank: 14 weeks
Aurecon: 14 weeks for primary carers in a shared care model
L’Oreal Australia: 14 weeks
Aecom: 12 weeks
Lion: 12 weeks
SMEC Holdings: 14 weeks for primary carers
Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency data for 2022.