Fact sheet

Fact Check: Does Australia have one of the least generous paid parental leave schemes in the OECD?

Parental leave

Advocacy group Parents At Work says Australia's approach to paid parental leave requires an "urgent rethink" from both government policymakers and employers, with the organisation's founder Emma Walsh claiming Australia has one of the least generous paid parental leave schemes amongst all OECD nations. Is she correct? RMIT ABC Fact Check found Ms Walsh's claim is a fair call. The average length of paid parental leave among OECD countries is around 55 weeks, while Australia's system offers 18 weeks, according to OECD data. Unlike the majority of the 36 members of the OECD, Australia provides a flat rate rather than a replacement wage. This makes the Australian system generous to low-income earners and part-time workers but not to those who earn more than the full-time minimum wage. Paid parental leave in Australia is granted to one parent, the "primary" caregiver, whereas in other OECD countries it can be shared. In other countries it can also be taken in addition to maternity leave and paternity leave. And Australia's provision for "secondary" caregivers of a total two weeks' paid leave ' a right that according to experts is rarely used ' is well below the OECD average of 8.1 weeks. An international network of academics and policymakers puts Australia's scheme in the least generous of three categories of paid parental leave, because it offers less than four months leave. The network did not classify this as "well-paid" leave.
Verdict: Fair call

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