Australia now has a paid parental leave scheme, following the passage last night of the Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010 by the Federal Parliament.
As was foreshadowed in the exposure draft bill, the scheme will come into effect from 1 January 2011, although employers need not be responsible for channelling the payments to employees until 1 July 2011 (they can do so earlier if they wish).
All types of workers will be covered by the scheme. As long as they are the child's primary carer and can satisfy certain tests, all workers will be entitled to up to 18 weeks' paid parental leave per child, paid in instalments at the national minimum wage as prescribed under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) from time to time (presently $543.78 per week).
Are you ready for paid parental leave?
In the lead-up to the introduction of the paid parental leave scheme, you should consider:
whether you need to revise your payroll systems and processes;
whether your employment contracts or existing parental leave policies should be amended; and
your policy on responding to requests that the minimum payments be topped up to an employee's actual salary.