Over the weekend, the Albanese Government announced plans to extend the federal government paid parental leave scheme by six weeks from 20 weeks to 26 weeks and make the scheme more flexible to encourage dads to take more leave.
This means new parents can now take up to 6 months off shared between them for the birth of a their new child.
How the changes work: Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay are combining into one payment. It will increase from 90 days (18 weeks) to 100 days (20 weeks). The total Parental Leave Pay available to families will then increase by 2 weeks each July. This is until 2026 when it will be 130 days (26 weeks).
Income limits will increase to a combined $350,000 per financial year and the payments can be used up until the child turns 2. You can read more about the changes at the Services Australia website here.
Union members have been instrumental in campaigning for paid time off for parents - the first every parental leave provision was won by federal public sector workers in 1973, when commonwealth public sector workers won 12 week paid maternity leave.
Right up to the introduction of the Paid Parental Leave Scheme in 2011 and beyond, union members have supported and won rights for new parents to take time off when their child arrives.
This announcement will significantly increase the overall amount of leave available while also making it more easily shared between parents, including on a flexible basis.
While many union-negotiated agreements now have more weeks, higher pay levels and flexible arrangements, this is still a good step forward in for working women and families, with the recognition of the changing attitudes of working families when it comes to primary caretaker roles.
These types of reforms don't just happen - it has been the work of thousands of union members campaigning for decades to create change in this space. Just like when we campaign for better wages or improved workplaces - when we work together we can build better lives for workers.
For more information on how this modified scheme will work - stay tuned to announcements from the federal government over the coming weeks. If you want to learn more about how parental leave works - you can view parental leave factsheets for private sector members here on the members-only portal.