Senator Hinch: Please stand against cuts to working parents' time to care
On Sunday the federal Government launched its *fourth* attempt to cut our paid parental leave system. They’re trying to sell this new proposal as a “boost” for parents. The problem is that the (measly) boost they would offer to some parents is entirely contingent on tens of thousands of other parents losing time with their newborns.
It’s a policy that would drag our parental leave system backwards, and seems designed to pit working parents against each other. We can’t let them get away with it.
Last time this happened, community pressure has helped convince the Senate cross benchers to stand against the proposed cuts in their tracks. It means making sure they know how we feel about this new proposal is critical.
Can you take a few minutes to call Senator Hinch's office on (02) 6277 3168 and ask the Senator to stand up for working families and block attacks on parental leave?
Yes I can make a call. What should I say? (Click to view)
- Ring ring - A staffer will answer the phone. If you don't get through straight away, wait a moment and then try again.
- Introduce yourself - Who you are? Where do you live? What do you do? Be sure to note if you have any expertise in this area.
- Explain the reason for your call - Tell the staffer you're calling about the new proposed change to paid parental leave (announced on Sunday), and you want to urge the Senator to vote against them.
- Share the reason why you oppose this new cut - you might want to mention that you think we should increase paid parental leave for *everyone* and that you don't support changes that are contingent on tearing precious time at home from other working parents.
- Ask for a commitment - Say you're calling to find out whether or not Senator Hinch will stand against the cuts.
- Say thanks! - Thank them for taking the time to listen to you, and ask them to please pass your message onto the Senator.
Once you've made your call, please send us a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what they said.
Can't call? Here's tips on how to send an email instead (click to view)
You can email Senator Hinch via email@example.com
Here are our tips for putting together a quick and effective email (because we know personal emails from voters have more impact than copy and pastes):
- Introduce yourself - Explain where you live and why you care about this issue. If you live in Victoria, or voted for Derryn Hinch at the last election be sure to mention it.
- Explain the reason you're emailing - Let them know that you're still concerned about the latest proposed change to paid parental leave, and the fact that it will still strip precious time to care from tens of thousands of working parents.
Share why you care about this issue. You may want to mention:
- The fact that health experts recommend 26 weeks as the minimum period of post-natal leave for health and welfare reasons; and that these changes would make 20 weeks a cap on paid parental leave support available, even for those who have negotiated extended leave with their employers.
- The fact that the current parental leave system was introduced as a result of recommendations of the Productivity Commission, and has been found to be meeting its objectives.
- The fact that modelling shows these cuts would hurt workers like nurses, teachers, ambos and Woolies workers.
- You might also want to mention that you want them to fight for increases to parental leave for all parents; but not support changes that are contingent on tearing money from other families, and reducing the pool of funding available overall.
- Let them know that you want them to block *any* cuts to paid parental leave and ask how the Senator will vote - they may not commit. That's okay. But we know the Senator changed his mind on the most recent proposal because of voter pressure, so this precious is critical!
- Thank them for their time.
Then cc in, or forward your email to, firstname.lastname@example.org so we can keep track of the messages being sent and replies being received.
Tell me more about the new proposal (click to view)
The government announced its *fourth* attempt to cut paid parental leave on Sunday.
They’re trying to sell this new proposal as a “boost” for parents. The problem is that that (measly) boost is entirely contingent on tens of thousands of other parents losing time with their newborns. It’s a policy that would drag our parental leave system backwards, and seems designed to pit working parents against each other.
Here are the basics:
Experts say that 26 weeks post-natal leave is the minimum needed for health and welfare reasons.
Right now, any eligible parent can access 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage, and then top that up with any leave they’ve negotiated into their employment contract, to cover costs while they care for their newborn.
The system was designed to be used in combination; to allow more women to access the recommended 26+ weeks leave. For many women, the leave negotiated into their employment agreement has been bargained in lieu of additional pay or other leave provisions.
In their latest proposal the Government is once again trying to punish these women – by cutting their access to government leave if they want to access the employer leave they’ve negotiated. It means that instead of acting as a floor, the period of government provided leave would instead becomes a ceiling.
To be clear, there are some positive aspects of this latest proposal:
- The amount of government provided leave would be increased from 18 to 20 weeks at the minimum wage (still well below the 26 weeks recommended by experts). This would be good news for working parents without access to employer leave.
- A change in the ‘activity test’ that determines would also see an increase in the number of parents eligible to access parental leave. And if these increases were all that was on the table – it would be good news...
- But both these changes would both be contingent on cutting the leave available for 72,000 other families.
In short, the crux of this proposal is still a cut. One that’s estimated to tear $600-$750 million out of the parental leave system, and to slash the amount of time thousands of workers like nurses, retail workers and ambos can afford to spend caring for their newborn. In fact, it’s estimated that under this new proposal 68,000 families with a median income of $62,000 a year would lose an average of $5,600.
-Find out more -
Is this the winning compromise on paid parental leave, Women’s Agenda, 21 November 2016.
Samantha Maiden: Breakthrough looms on parental leave pay, Daily Telegraph, 20 November 2016.