A paid parental leave system based on gender equity principles

Moving away from the old ‘primary carer/secondary carer’ model of Paid Parental Leave (PPL) and to a system based on gender equity principles should be an aim of policymakers, moving forward.

In a report developed by KPMG in association with the Business Council of Australia’s Women’s Participation Taskforce, we propose important changes which will help with a wider move towards equal parental responsibility for child-raising.

Under KPMG’s proposed scheme, the available 20 weeks of paid leave would be split according to what best suits the parents lifestyle, effectively ending the status quo where the birth Mother is eligible for 18 of these weeks while the other parent having to make do with just two.

The total number of weeks would also increase to 26 weeks over six years, rising by two weeks every two years.

Our proposal also outlines an ‘equality supplement’, where bonus weeks are awarded to the extent that responsibility for care is shared more equally. If the nominated carer weeks were allocated evenly, within a 55/45 per cent range, then each parent would receive two additional weeks of leave. If the split was within, for example, 65/35 per cent, then each parent would receive one additional week.

Our estimates indicate that by the time this proposal reaches year six, it would cost the government approximately $1.1 billion. Despite this, the measure would contribute to decreasing the workforce participation gap between men and women.

The report’s principles underpinning a revamped scheme of government-funded parental leave include:

• The system should have a component which is based on a non-transferrable individual right rather than only a family right.

• The scheme should not be gender-based in legal form and should cater for same-sex relationships

• Individual rights should operate on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis to promote take-up of the leave and should not be available to be realised in the form of a different benefit.

• Benefits of the government scheme should be additional to any benefits provided by an employer scheme and not be reduced because of this.

• The scheme should incentivise parental care arrangements that are more equal. This could take the form of additional paid leave or greater flexibility.

•The ‘use it or lose it’ period should be two years from the birth of the child.

Read the full report

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