Employers could be relieved of their ‘paymaster’ duties under the Paid Parental Leave Scheme if the Opposition is successful in passing a private member’s bill next month.
If passed, the Paid Parental Leave (Reduction of Compliance Burden for Employers) Amendment Bill 2010 will see Centrelink’s Family Assistance Office directly administer payments to eligible workers, removing employers from the payment process.
Currently, the funds are distributed by the government but are administered by employers, a feature of the scheme heavily criticised by the Opposition and small business groups.
Bruce Billson, shadow minister for small business, says the government has failed to offer any compelling reason for appointing employers as paymasters of the scheme.
“It is completely false for the Gillard Government and [Minister for Families] Jenny Macklin to claim they have listened to small business concerns about the unnecessary and pointless red tape burden of its PPL scheme,” Billson says.
“Businesses across Australia have rejected Julia Gillard’s Paid Parental Leave ‘pay clerk’ burden, with only 786 employers reportedly registering to bring forward the unwelcome burden.”
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, says COSBOA will be contacting every Member of Parliament asking them to vote in favour of the bill.
“With paid parental leave, this government has the option to pay the person direct or create unnecessary red tape and cause mistakes by asking the small business owner to pass that money onto the worker through their payroll system,” Strong says.
“This process scores 10 out of 10 for silliness and zero out of 10 for commonsense.”
Strong says it isn’t too late to remodel the Paid Parental Leave Scheme in a “sensible and efficient” way.
“Congratulations to the government for implementing PPL – it is about time – but leave us out of the payment process and the system will be even better,” he says.
Macklin has defended the scheme, arguing it is important for employers to be involved in the payment process.
“We think it’s really beneficial to business and to female employees, particularly, to keep that connection with their workplace,” she said in a statement.
“We’re really concerned to make sure it’s done as easily as possible for the employer. I think there are lots of employers around today who really understand the benefits of Paid Parental Leave.”