Unions will today appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs calling for the wholesale rejection of the Abbott Government’s push to force parents back to work shortly after the birth of their child.
Unions will be joined by community groups and workers in Canberra to outline deep-held concerns about the Abbott Government’s proposed changes to the Paid Parental Leave scheme which would leave as many as 80,000 parents a year worse off – some losing as much as $11 824.
This move by the Abbott Government is counter to the best interests of babies and will likely compel women to leave the workforce.
The current PPL scheme was designed to include financial contributions from government and employers and aims to meet the World Health Organisation recommendation for at least six months paid leave for new parents.
This promotes child and maternal health, builds strong families and helps mothers stay in the workforce.
Forcing tens of thousands of women with newborn babies back to work sooner would also put a massive squeeze on childcare places.
Union estimates, based on ABS and Productivity Commission data, show this retrograde policy could create a shortfall of over 13,000 childcare places, with another 19,000 forced to find family or informal care.
Furthermore we are disgusted by suggestions that parents who combine the government contribution with employer entitlements are double dipping.
Employers who provide PPL have done so in order to attract and retain valuable employees and because they recognise that it is the right thing to do.
There is strong evidence that the current scheme supports and encourages mothers to return to work in the long run and the Abbott Government must not be allowed to dismantle it.
ACTU President Ged Kearney said: “Access to a properly funded paid parental leave has enormous benefits for the health and wellbeing of parents and their bubs and encourages women’s participation in the workforce.”
“The Abbott Government is attempting to penalise both workers and families by cutting the amount of time new mothers can spend with their babies.”
“Australian families should not be forced to choose between their babies and their jobs.”
“Forcing tens of thousands of women with newborn babies back to work sooner would put a massive squeeze on childcare yet the Government has not provided any modelling on how this would be handled.”
“As Mr Abbott said himself – a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme is the obligation that a serious political party owes to modern society – it’s clear he was not serious.”