Federal Government Plan to Slash Paid Parental Leave

Update: Union Action Saves Paid Parental Leave


Retail workers will lose $2,500-$8,500

The Federal Government’s paid parental leave scheme provides for 18 weeks paid parental leave at the level of the minimum wage. This allows mothers (or occasionally fathers) to spend time off work with their young baby in the months immediately after the birth. The World Health Organisation recommends six months as the optimum time for the mother’s recovery and the growth, development and health of newborns.

The Federal Government’s scheme was deliberately designed to be a complementary scheme allowing employers to top the 18 weeks up to the optimum 26 weeks (or more). Fortunately a number of retail and fast food companies do currently provide additional paid parental leave of between 6 weeks and 13 weeks.


Federal Government to Slash Paid Parental Leave

Unfortunately the Federal Government is proposing to slash paid parental leave entitlements.

The effect of the proposed Government change is to set a cap (or perhaps it should be called a glass ceiling) of 18 weeks paid parental leave. Every week offered by the employer beyond 18 weeks of paid leave will result in a reduction of one week by the Government and thus it will remain at 18 weeks paid leave.

The only circumstance in which a person can receive more than 18 weeks paid parental leave will be where an employer is prepared to pay more than 18 weeks paid parental leave at the cost of the employer and the Federal Government pays nothing. That is not going to happen with retail and fast food companies.


Impact on Women

This will severely impact on women and particularly low-paid workers

The reduction in the amount of paid parental leave will force women back to work early, to the detriment of their health and the health of their baby. Returning to work too early impacts on the ability for mothers and babies to bond, establish breastfeeding and sleep patterns. It also has impacts on the mental health of mothers.
Returning to work on flexible hours can also be very difficult for new parents. Doing this when a child is 4 months rather than 6 months creates further impediments. This is compounded by availability of child care, particularly places for babies under 6 months.


Workers in retail will lose between $2,500 and $8,500 under the proposed changes.

The severe impact on low income workers, far outweighs the small budgetary gain for the Government. Indications from employers in retail are that they will no longer provide employer paid parental leave therefore there will be no budgetary gain.

The table below shows the amount of leave which will be slashed by the Government’s amended paid parental leave bill for retail and fast food workers.

Employer Consequences of the proposed Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill 2016
Bunnings Initial loss of equivalent to 4 weeks on commencement of leave at NMW (currently $672.70 per week)- $2690.80
Potential loss of 4 week RTW bonus after completing 6 months service after returning from PL – which represents a further >$2690.80
Woolworths Initial loss of equivalent to 6 weeks PPL at NMW on commencement of leave - $4036.20
Potential loss of 2 weeks RTW bonus depending on how a change in legislation would treat a RTW bonus – another >$1345.40
Kmart Top-up equates to $2209.68 – assuming legislation requires employees to take this into account our member would lose this amount from the government payment.
Dulux Potential loss of $8072.40
Coles Initial loss of equivalent to 6 weeks at NMW - $4036.20
Potential loss of 6 weeks RTW - >$4036.20 depending on how a change in legislation would treat a RTW bonus
Super Retail Group Initial loss of equivalent of 4 weeks at NMW - $2690.80
Potential loss of 2 weeks RTW bonus - $1345.40
Target Loss of 6 weeks at NMW - $4036.20
Costco Loss of 8 weeks at NMW - $5381.60
Myer Loss of 6 weeks at NMW - $4036.20
Priceline Loss of 2 weeks at NMW - $1345.40
Noni B Loss of 13 weeks at NMW - $8745.10

I think the table speaks for itself.

This legislation will come back before the Senate for consideration next year.

The SDA together with other unions is lobbying cross-bench Senators asking them to oppose the Federal Government’s changes. In Victoria that means lobbying Senator Derryn Hinch.

We campaigned together successfully to win Christmas Day as a public holiday.

I am asking you once again to join with us to campaign to oppose this attempt to slash the paid parental leave entitlements of SDA members.


Join the Campaign

Fill in the Card:

Members are being sent a card to fill in directed to Senator Hinch opposing the cuts in paid parental leave.

The card is arriving with the SDA Journal in the mail. Please fill in the card and return in the reply paid envelope to the SDA.

Email Senator Hinch

Alternatively email Senator.Hinch@aph.gov.au saying you are opposed to the cuts in paid parental leave.