Education International
Education International

Australia: education unionists stand up for paid parental leave

published 31 August 2015 updated 1 September 2015

The Australian Education Union has criticised the Abbott Government’s proposed changes to the Paid Parental Scheme, leading up to 47,000 national public educators to lose access to the Commonwealth’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

The governmental plan for introducing a so-called “Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill” would leave thousands of women losing as much as $11,824 and potentially forced to return to work much earlier than they had planned.

For example, the trade union said, some full time education assistants will lose an amount equivalent to 25 per cent of their annual salary.

The Australian Education Union (AEU), affiliated to Education International (EI), had negotiated for decent maternity leave conditions to be included in educators pay agreements, because they are a vital support for a historically female profession.

The introduction of the Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave (PPL) payment five years ago, after intensive lobbying by the AEU, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), women’s groups and the business lobby, was a welcome addition to the support available for women who have children.

But now the Abbott Government wants to change that by removing the right to the PPL for women who have parental leave provided by their employers, the AEU condemned, explaining that instead of being able to combine the two payments they will only be able to receive one.

The AEU also underlined that many educators will need the combination of their employer based maternity leave and the Commonwealth PPL and their own annual leave to care for, bond with and exclusively breastfeed their babies in the critical first 26 weeks, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The governmental bill has currently been referred to a Senate Inquiry for further consideration. There however is still no guarantee the Abbott Government will be able to get its bill passed by the Senate, AEU said.

The trade union has therefore called on educators and concerned citizens to show the Abbott Government and the Senate that Paid Parental Leave is too important to be taken away, by signing a petition in support of PPL here