New dads could share in up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave under a change to the scheme being considered by the government.
The Albanese government will commence discussions with business to find ways to encourage more fathers to stay home and share the parental load during the first two years of their child’s lives.
It follows a plan included in the Morrison government’s last budget, which allowed couples to share the 20 weeks of available commonwealth-funded paid parental leave.
Government Services Minister Bill Shorten said Labor wanted to consult with businesses to find ways to help more dads stay home with their babies.
“The reality is that primary carers are allowed up to 20 weeks and Amanda Rishworth, the new Social Services Minister, and others are having that conversation,” Mr Shorten told the Nine Network.
“If you have 20 weeks, and it’s for the primary carer, let’s encourage dads if they want to take up more than the two weeks they are currently allowed to, we should.”
According to a report published by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in February, men currently account for just 12 per cent of primary carers who took paid parental leave in 2021.
The same report found 91 per cent of organisations providing primary carer’s leave make no distinction between men or women taking that leave.
But, to be eligible for the commonwealth’s paid parental leave scheme, which pays 18 weeks at minimum wage, you must be the “birth mother of a newborn child”, the initial primary carer of an adopted child, or another person caring for a child under “exceptional circumstances”.
Men currently receive two weeks of commonwealth-funded “dad or partner pay”.
Georgie Dent, executive director of families advocacy group The Parenthood said changes to the commonwealth parental leave system would be a “game changer”.
“This is promising (that) Amanda Rishworth says the government is considering offering 20 weeks of paid parental leave to dads,” she said on social media.
“This would be a game changer for families.”
A spokesperson for Ms Rishworth said the minister was looking at how best to implement more flexible paid parental leave arraignments for families.
“We want a PPL scheme that better helps parents find the right balance of time at home with their new baby,” the spokesperson said.
“The Social Services Minister is going to look at how this can be achieved within the budgeted amount.
“The minister will consult with businesses and families to deliver this measure.”