Australian Employers Embracing New Parental Leave Scheme

February 25, 2011 ( - Most businesses that offer paid parental leave have no plans to decrease payments in light of the Australian government’s paid parental leave scheme, according to a survey by Mercer.

Of the 284 organisations polled, 72 per cent already offer paid parental leave. The Australian reports that the survey found almost a quarter of the rest would consider topping up leave entitlements, rather than relying solely on the government.   

Tricia Sneddon, human capital strategy and talent consulting leader for Mercer’s Australia and New Zealand business, says the new legislation has been embraced, according to the news report.  

Under the scheme, from January, eligible parents will get 18 weeks’ leave, paid at the federal minimum wage which will soon be $570 a week. The leave can be shared between parents.   

To qualify for Labor’s scheme, the nominated parent must work at least 330 hours in 10 of the 13 months before the child’s birth or adoption, with a maximum two-month break, and their income cannot exceed $150,000 a year.   

Women who need to take time off work because of difficulties during their pregnancy will also be eligible, if they would have otherwise met the work test.   

About 150,000 families are expected to qualify for the scheme that also requires employers to top it up with any program they already have in place, the Australian said. All businesses are required to fully implement the new scheme by July 1.  

The survey indicated the industries offering the highest number of weeks of paid parental leave are education and research with a median of 23 weeks, nine weeks more than the next highest, which include energy and utilities, health care and federal, state and local government. Employers said the challenge will be compliance, with 59 per cent of respondents indicating the complexities will be moderate.