Changes to paid parental leave to prevent “double dipping” have been tabled into legislation and could take effect sooner than expected.
While this change has been on the cards for a couple of years, the big shock for soon-to-be-parents is that the change could become effective as of January 1, 2017 – in just over two months’ time.
“Alternative start dates of January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1 are proposed in the legislation to allow for parliamentary delays, leaving thousands of women in limbo,” confirms journalist Samantha Maiden.
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“The Government’s move to announce a start date that will affect women who are currently pregnant has sparked fears it could subject thousands of mothers to stress and uncertainty about entitlements.”
Honestly, this is an outrageous move on behalf of the government. Preparing for the arrival of a new baby is stressful enough from a financial point of view – and to create such confusion and instability for growing Australian families about their entitlements is really unfair.
Let’s be clear here: these are not people earning high six-figure incomes who could be stripped of their PPL.
These are average Australians – like teachers, nurses, police officers – who have been diligently planning their maternity leave period and who now have their financial security over this time plunged into chaos.
This is undoubtedly going to force more people to return to work earlier than they want to, which puts even more stress on families.
The worst thing about it is, the entire legislation misses a fundamental economic point about parental leave.
And that is this: it’s not a money grab. It’s not an ‘entitlement’. It’s not double dipping when people have access to two schemes.
Paid parental leave keeps women engaged with their families and able to focus on breastfeeding. The WHO suggests that six months of breastfeeding is optimal and when government parental leave was first introduced, the goal was to allow women as much time off as possible to adjust to new parenthood.
So, it’s really not unfair that some women have the opportunity to get PPL from both their employer and the government. Rather, it’s unfair that ALL women don’t get this opportunity.
In the meantime, hopefully the government will clarify the start-date of legislative changes sooner rather than later, so current pregnant mums can stop fretting about their finances.