The Federal Government has extended its paid parental leave policy, by introducing two weeks of paid paternity leave for fathers – and employers won’t be on the hook for distributing the payments.
After the small business community expressed outrage at having to act as “paymasters” for the government’s 18-week paid maternity leave scheme, the government will now distribute the two weeks of paid paternity leave through the Family Assistance Office.
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“Businesses don’t have to make the payments,” a spokesperson for Human Services Minister Jenny Macklin confirmed to SmartCompany this morning.
An amendment to the Paid Parental Leave scheme was passed yesterday. It will allow fathers to take time off from January next year and they will be provided with two weeks of pay, set at the national minimum wage – currently $606 a week.
“With more assistance to take time off work when a new baby joins the family, dads will be able to support mums and be involved in the care of their baby right from the start,” Macklin said in a statement yesterday.
The new payments will be available for fathers and partners, including adoptive parents and parents in same-sex couples, and it will also be made available for those in casual jobs without annual leave entitlements.
The payments will be available for full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers who have worked more than 330 hours in 10 of the previous 13 months before the birth of the child.
However, anyone earning more than $150,000 won’t be eligible.
Fathers will also need to be on unpaid leave, or at least, can’t be working during the period they receive the payments.
Payments will also be able to be received alongside existing payments, including Paid Parental Leave, the Baby Bonus, and Family Tax Benefits.
The small business community has repeatedly criticised the government for making SMEs act as paymasters for the Maternity Leave scheme. Although businesses don’t have to fund the payments out of pocket, they still have to wait for the government to provide them with the funds and then pass them on to the employer.
However, as Macklin’s office confirmed this morning, businesses won’t be on the hook for payments – they’ll be distributed as per other payments directly to the individual recipient.