A parent advocacy body is calling for the federal government to reform paid parental leave and scale it up towards a full year between carers.
The Parenthood chief executive Georgie Dent appeared before a parliamentary inquiry into the scheme on Monday to outline key areas of reform.
They include a six-week “use it or lose it” provision in the 26-week leave scheme in a bid to incentivise men to use their entitlement.
Ms Dent is pushing for an increase to paid parental leave of up to 52 weeks equally shared between two carers, a boost to the payment rate from the minimum wage to a replacement wage and the extension of superannuation guarantees.
“Australian parents receive far less paid parental leave than parents around the world and it costs children, families, our society and the economy,” she said.
“Australia cannot become the best place in the world to be a parent and raise a child if we don’t seriously lift ambition on the national paid parental leave system.”
Parents At Work chief executive Emma Walsh wants the government to go further and increase paid parental leave to 26 weeks by next year and to 52 weeks by 2030.
Ms Walsh is also pushing for access to the leave to be extended from two years to five to enable greater flexibility.
Both CEOs also argue a more robust scheme is critical in achieving gender equality in the workplace.
“Australia’s paid parental leave measures trail behind comparable nations,” Ms Walsh said.
“The (legislation) doesn’t go far enough if Australia is going to meet its gender equality targets and shift gendered norms that see women expected to take on the lion’s share of caring duties in the workplace and at home.”
The government’s proposed legislation will combine two existing payments into a shared 20-week scheme, expand access through a family income test which people can qualify for if they’re over the single income threshold and make it easier for new fathers to access paid leave.
Further tranches will then seek to progressively increase the amount of leave until it reaches 26 weeks in 2026.
(Australian Associated Press)