Policy report

Enhancing work-life balance: a better system of Paid Parental Leave

Parental leave Caregivers Gender equity Parenting and guardianship Australia

KPMG wants to encourage an economy and society where both parents have the opportunity to have an ongoing, consistent attachment to the workforce while they have young children.

Rebalancing the distribution of work and care within families could also lead to a reduction in the gender pay gap, higher GDP through increased female work participation and could ultimately lift economic welfare.

The current federal government system effectively provides for 20 weeks paid at the minimum wage. Eighteen of those weeks are generally paid to the mother and two weeks are generally paid to the father as ‘Dad and Partner Pay’.

Under the proposal outlined in this report, this would be renamed Paid Parental Leave, so there was a single scheme. After the birth or adoption there would be an allocation of 20 weeks for two parents. 18 weeks would be the maximum for either parent. The number of weeks under the scheme would rise to 26 weeks over six years, by two weeks every two years. This mechanism would allow movement towards more equal parental leave without taking away any existing benefit.

An equal system of government Paid Parental Leave is just one part of the story. Business and societal support for cultural change is key. It is important that men do not feel a stigma for taking leave or that their bosses will feel it is career-limiting. Many business leaders are already showing that this is not the case through words and action affirming that playing a larger caregiving role is a positive for their careers and that of their partner.

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