Moms and dads will be offered more paid parental leave (PPL), but the majority of this extra help won’t be paid out for a few years.
The PPL legislation was introduced to Parliament today, after the Government announced the changes in October 2022.
It is estimated that around 180,000 families benefit from this assistance each year.
Although the number of weeks offered to parents will increase, superannuation on payments is still not offered, although the government insists this remains its policy.
So here’s what you need to know.
How many weeks can I take?
Parents who have had a child or adopted a child on or after July 1, 2023 can request up to 20 weeks of leave, subject to eligibility.
The number of weeks will increase to 22 from July 2024.
From July 2025, it will increase to 24 weeks.
Finally, this figure will reach 26 weeks from July 2026.
Leave can only be taken when a parent does not receive paid leave from their workplace.
Use it or lose it: splitting leave
Not all weeks can be used by one parent.
A few weeks are reserved for the second parent in order to encourage both parents to take PPL.
For this financial year and in 2024-25, two weeks of the total leave are only available to the parent who does not use the majority of the leave.
If these weeks are not used, they are lost in what the government calls a “use it or lose it program”: they cannot be transferred to the parent who took the majority of the paid leave.
From July 2025, the total number of PPL weeks will increase to 24, but at least three of these weeks must be used by the second parent.
And from July 2026, four weeks will be reserved for the second parent.
The reason for quarantining for a few weeks for the second parent is to encourage more fathers to take time off.
The Federal Government established the Women’s Economic Equality Task Force to provide advice on how to “promote women’s economic equality in Australia”.
In his advice to Finance Minister Katy Gallagher, he recommended that at least four weeks be set aside for the second parent.
“Our hypothesis, supported by research, is that women will take most, if not all, of the 18 weeks, and father/partner-only leave also sends important signals about the importance of fathers as caregivers “, the letter states.
The task force also recommended that the government increase the PPL to 52 weeks, but the government is not considering this measure at the moment.
Single parents can access the full amount of the PPL subject to eligibility.
Flexibility on how to use leave
In addition to the few weeks reserved for the second parent, the PPL can be divided between the parents in the way that suits their family.
For example, if a couple meets the eligibility criteria, they can share the leave equally if they wish.
There are also changes in the case of couples taking leave at the same time.
Currently, parents can take two weeks of leave together.
From July 2025, this period will increase to four weeks.
There are growing calls for government paid parental leave to include a superannuation to help reduce the retirement savings gap between men and women.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth insisted the Government supported the policy but at this stage could not afford to implement it.
“Superannuation is something our government has said we would like to implement when we can afford it,” she told the ABC.
“But there are a lot of pressures on the budget – in my own portfolio, as well as in many other portfolios – and we have to balance all of these competing demands.”
Adding superannuation to government leave would cost about $200 million a year, according to a study commissioned by the former government.
The Greens are currently trying to negotiate with the government for super to be added to holiday pay.
Who is eligible?
Government support depends on how much you or your partner earn.
There are two income testing options.
The full 20 weeks (increasing to 26 by 2026) are provided to both parents if their combined income is less than $350,000.
However, if the combined income exceeds this figure, the majority of leave can be granted to one parent if their income is less than $168,865.
For a single parent to be eligible for PPL, their income must be less than $168,865.
In addition to the income criterion, parents must have worked 10 of the 13 months preceding the birth or adoption of their child.
There are exemptions from the labor exam in the event of pregnancy-related illness, pregnancy-related complications, or premature birth.