Politics

Businesses set to get rid of “pay-clerk” burden for parental leave

Cara Waters /

Businesses are one step closer to no longer having to serve as the government’s “pay-clerk” for paid parental leave after the Paid Parental Leave amendment 2014 bill passed the House of Representatives on Monday.

Under the proposed legislation, instead of businesses administering the Paid Parental Leave scheme, the Family Assistance Offer will do the job.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson told SmartCompany the way the scheme currently operates is unnecessarily complex and forces business to bear the costs of the extra workload. 

Billson claims abolishing the requirement for businesses to administer the scheme will save $48 million in red-tape if it passes through the Senate.

But the legislative change is still in doubt with Labor indicating it will seek amendments in the Senate to limit the legislation to those businesses with less than 20 employees. 

Labor has opposed the change three times already.

“Of the opposition to [removing the pay clerk function] that has been presented to date very little has been to the measure itself,” Billson says.

“It’s an initiative that has been widely supported by many industry organisations and employers and we are keen to simply get on with it. “  

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is supporting the legislative amendment. 

ACCI’s chief operating officer John Osborn said small business people should not be forced to be the “unpaid pay-clerks for government schemes”.

“This responsibility should be funded and administered by government – and if Senate passes the amendment it will,” Osborn said in a statement.

But Osborn said business continues to argue for “moderation” to the government’s proposed Paid Parental Leave scheme.

“We’ve highlighted the potentially negative impacts on businesses that are already under tremendous pressure and we stick to that view,” he said.

“The proposed scheme is far too generous given the significant budget challenge we face.”

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is the former editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter at the Financial Times website FT Adviser in London and she also worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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