PIAC has made a submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parental leave. PIAC strongly supports the introduction of a national scheme of paid leave for parents. It is in the public interest for working families to be able to access some form of paid leave upon the birth of a child. The current system--where there is paid maternity leave in the public sector but it is essentially left up to employers in the private sector to decide whether or not to provide it--is both inequitable and inadequate. Paid parental leave tends to be enjoyed primarily by women and men in the public sector, and by those on relatively high incomes. It is less available for women who have lower skills or are in part-time or casual work, women who work in the retail, accommodation and food services industries and women who work for small or medium businesses. Arguably, this is where it is needed most. Where leave is offered by private sector employers, it is usually below minimal international standards and may not be available to all staff.
In order to ensure uniformity and national coverage, a scheme of paid leave for parents should be legislated for federally. It should be available to all Australians, irrespective of their background, education, income-level and sexual orientation.