Making it easier for dads and non-birth parents to take parental leave

The IEU’s claim in the Catholic systemic sector for increased parental leave for fathers and non-birth partners is part of an ongoing campaign to recognise the realities of contemporary work and family.

In seeking new enterprise agreements (EA) for staff in systemic schools, the IEU has claimed parity with a new NSW public sector entitlement for an additional 12 weeks of paid parental leave for non-birth parents who become the primary carer for the child in the 12 months following the birth, provided the mother is not taking parental leave at the same time.

This move in the direction of greater flexibility for parents taking leave is also reflected in the 2022 federal budget announcement that the two weeks ‘Dad and Partner’ pay is being merged with the 18 weeks paid parental leave (at the federal minimum wage rate) to create 20 weeks paid parental leave to be accessed by parents within two years of the birth or adoption. A single parent will also be eligible for the full 20 weeks of paid parental leave.

In its 2022 Data Snapshot from the 2020-2021 reporting period, Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) noted that paid primary carer’s leave was becoming increasingly available to both women and men but that initiatives are needed to increase the take-up rate for men. On the data for the reporting period, only 12 percent of men had accessed parental leave.

The ACTU is continuing to advocate for 26 weeks of paid parental leave and with superannuation to be paid on the national paid parental leave amount.

Australian women currently retire with significantly lower super balances than men and payment of super on paid and unpaid parental leave would be a major step in reducing the retirement income gap.

WGEA has indicated that only seven percent of employers in 2020-2021 paid superannuation on both employer funded and government funded parental leave.

In a new enterprise agreement negotiated with the IEU, Life Education NSW/ACT has agreed to pay superannuation on up to 12 months of parental leave for all employees who access such leave. This has been welcomed by the IEU as a positive move in addressing superannuation inequities arising from parental leave.

As part of a fair and inclusive society, both employers and governments have vital roles in supporting parents to take the leave they need to care for babies and young children.

The IEU’s current EA claim for the Catholic systemic sector and other union campaigns are important in recognising the practical realities of balancing work and care for contemporary families.