Federal government to extend paid parental leave to six months

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will confirm that the federal government is boosting paid parental leave [PPL] for families by an additional six weeks, taking it to a total of six months.

The increase to PPL, will be the centrepiece announcement during Mr Albanese’s speech to the NSW Labor conference in Sydney on Saturday.

The move, which will be included in this month’s budget, is designed to address calls for action on gender equity and help for families hit by the cost of living.

“Our Labor government will deliver the biggest boost to Paid Parental Leave since it was created by the former Labor Government in 2011,” Mr Albanese will tell the conference.

From July 1, 2024, the PPL scheme will be expanded by two additional weeks a year until it reaches its full 26 weeks from July 2026.

“By 2026, every family with a new baby will be able to access a total of 6 months paid leave, shared between the two parents,” the Prime Minister will say.

“And single parents will be able to access all 26 weeks. We will give families more leave and more flexibility, so people are able to use their weeks in a way that works best for them.”

Increasing the length of PPL was one of the most frequent proposals to increase work participation and productivity at last month’s Jobs and Skills Summit.

As part of the increase, the government will maintain “use it or lose it” weeks to encourage and facilitate more fathers to access PPL, so both parents can share the caring responsibilities more equally.

“Businesses, unions, experts and economists all understand that providing more choice, more support and more flexibility for families and more opportunity for women boosts participation and productivity across the economy,” Mr Albanese will say.

‘A national minimum standard’

“And let me be clear: the government views this as the foundation, the baseline, a national minimum standard.”

The Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce, chaired by Australian businesswoman and gender equity advocate Sam Mostyn, will examine the optimal model for the 26 weeks leave.

It will evaluate what mix of flexible weeks and “use it or lose it” component for each parent will deliver the best outcome for families and encourage more shared parenting.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said boosting women’s workforce participation and encouraging more fathers to take parental leave was a priority for the government.

“This will benefit mums, it will benefit dads, it’s good for children, and it will be a huge boost to the economy,” Ms Rishworth said.

“It is important that we have a Paid Parental Leave scheme that supports modern Australian families and that complements other parental leave schemes offered by a growing number of employers,” she said.

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