Stop cuts to working parents' time to care

UPDATE - GREAT NEWS: After two years of powerful campaigning by Fair Agenda members and other concerned community members, the cuts to paid parental leave have been taken out of the federal budget. It's a really important reprieve for the tens of thousands of working families who stood to lose precious time to care if these cuts had gone ahead.

But - the fight may not be over. If the Government have shown us anything over the past two years, it's that they don't give up on these cuts easily -- so Fair Agenda will keep a watching brief on this issue.

But right now, Fair Agenda's work to secure an election commitment from the Nick Xenophon Team - and to hold them to account for that promise - are the key factor that are stopping these cuts going ahead. So thank you to all those Fair Agenda members who made calls, sent emails, met with their Senators, helped secure election commitments, and funded research to help stop these cuts. You can read more about the impact of our campaigning together here.

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The Turnbull Government have just announced their *fourth* attempt to cut our paid parental leave system. They're trying to sell this new proposal as a boost for parents; but in reality they're making a boost for some parents entirely contingent on cutting the time tens of thousands of other working parents can afford to spend caring for their newborns, and planning on stripping $750 million from the system overall.

It's a proposal that would pit working parents against each other, and drag our system backwards. It would also cap the total combined leave available to eligible parents at 20 weeks -- well below the 26 weeks postnatal leave experts recommend for health and welfare outcomes.

The fate of these cuts will be decided by the Senate crossbench, with The Nick Xenophon Team expected to have the critical casting votes. Community campaigning has stopped the Turnbull Government from getting their plans to cut paid parental leave through the previous parliament. 

It's critical we show the Senate crossbench that the community oppose these cuts; and want them to stop these cruel cuts to new families. Can you sign the petition to join the campaign?

Find out more about the new cuts

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.[2]

 

-Find out more -

1. Is this the winning compromise on paid parental leave, Women’s Agenda, 21 November 2016.

2. Samantha Maiden: Breakthrough looms on parental leave pay, Daily Telegraph, 20 November 2016.

Paid parental leave: Nick Xenophon warned not to pit working mums against each other, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November 2016. 

29,082 SIGNATURES

It's hard enough caring for a newborn without being forced back to work early. Please don't cut working parents' right to the existing 18 weeks government paid parental leave. 

Signed,

Fair Agenda will email petition signers from time to time with important updates

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Latest activity

Natalie , 6112  /  signed 2016-11-24 13:16:27 +1100
Lauren , 6112  /  signed 2016-11-24 08:54:05 +1100
Cherie , 6112  /  signed 2016-11-24 01:36:12 +1100
"I believe every mum has the right to be home with their baby and care for them for as long as possible. Cutting the leave would mean mums having to go back to work sooner and have someone else raise their children. Quality time is hard enough to find these days, don’t take it away from new mums!"
Sinead , 2039  /  signed 2016-11-23 17:03:22 +1100
Michelle , 6110  /  signed 2016-11-23 16:15:09 +1100
"I’m a sole parent of twins and without that extra paid maternity leave that I received by being able to claim both my work pml and the government ppl my children and I would have suffered greatly. Getting both of these enabled me to remain at home for the full first 12 months of my girls life and ease them into a day care situation. I was also able to remain a breastfeeding mother throughout the first 12 months when I weaned them down to just night feeds for the remaining 9 months. I think it is vitally important that women are supported to be able to properly care for their children for as long as is possible to ensure the wellbeing of the children, the mother and the family as a whole. Not all women have the benefit of support of others in their life so let’s not also remove their financial support at such a vital time."
Melanie , 4813  /  signed 2016-11-22 20:49:58 +1100
"Cutting this payment for me as a nurse with a paid scheme will push me into 2 options early daycare and therefore costing the government more money sooner, or my husband taking the paid parental leave. Either way the government doesn’t say money and our options are just limited it doesn’t make sense. It is important to note with my 2nd child I had to pay for daycare 3 months before I needed it to make sure I had a spot when I went to work."
Sabrina , 2478  /  signed 2016-11-12 12:17:32 +1100
Helen , 2602  /  signed 2016-11-11 17:27:24 +1100
"In many cases, the proposals will effectively reduce PPL to a maximum of 18 weeks, which is just not long enough for a mother to recover from birth, bond with her baby and provide the recommended levels of breastfeeding.

Even more worryingly, the changes undermine the public/business partnership which was established under the current scheme to normalise PPL in the workplace and bring us closer to meeting our international commitments on improving women’s workplace participation. If employers know that establishing their own PPL scheme will make employees ineligible for a government payment, why would they bother setting up a scheme? Under the current scheme, employers only have to offer their employees 8 weeks of paid leave to bring their worker’s entitlements up to the 6 months recommended for breastfeeding by the Department of Health and the World Health Organisation, because the other 18 weeks are contributed by the Government. That’s quite an incentive for business to normalise and support PPL in the workplace! Under the amended scheme, employers would have to cover the entire period themselves to give their employees the same benefit. We are concerned that the changes will see employers drop out of PPL, leaving the Government scheme to pick up the slack and offer a too-short period of leave to new Mums. If this happens, we may not see budget savings at all.

Normalising PPL in the workplace also has the benefit of working to reduce discrimination by employers against pregnant women, women on PPL and women returning to work. In their 2013 report, the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 48% (nearly one in two) women had experienced discrimination at work either before, during or after returning from PPL.

It’s also worth noting that employer-provided schemes are often negotiated at the expense of wage rises. Pushing women on to employer-only schemes may contribute to the gendered wage gap, as workplaces with high proportions of female employees are more likely to accept wage reductions in return for decent PPL.

Meanwhile, Mums who have had difficult births or whose children are not sleeping through the night at 18 weeks or who can’t get infant child care in their area or who have health or feeding problems may lose their connection to their employer if they can’t return to work within 18 weeks. Extending the length of available PPL increases the likelihood that women will return to work because the connection is maintained for a longer period."
Lisa , 5070  /  signed 2016-11-08 17:33:10 +1100
"Lisa Nicholls"
Eve , 4103  /  signed 2016-11-07 20:36:36 +1100
"Eve Gibson"
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