Paid parental leave could be delayed: Kevin Andrews

Paid parental leave could be delayed: Kevin Andrews

Social Services minister Kevin Andrews says it’s not yet possible to tell whether six months is enough time for the government to come up with a revamped paid parental leave package. Photo: Andrew Meares Kevin Andrews Photo: Andrew Meares
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Kevin Andrews Photo: Andrew Meares

Kevin Andrews Photo: Andrew Meares

The federal government’s new paid parental leave scheme may not be ready in time for its scheduled July 1, 2015 start date, Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews has indicated.

Mr Andrews has told Fairfax Media that it was not yet possible to say whether six months would be enough time to come up with the revamped package, after Prime Minister Tony Abbott earlier this month said he would be making further changes to his scheme. Mr Andrews said the government would not know what the timetable is until it had worked on the policy over the summer holidays.

“Until we do that work and know exactly what it looks like and what the parameters are, then we can’t make that assessment.”

Mr Andrews said it was still the government’s “aim” and “aspiration” to meet the July 2015 start date.

“But you have to be realistic about it as well.”

This comes as paid parental leave researcher Marian Baird expressed strong doubts that the government would have enough time to devise the new scheme.

“I can’t see how they can possibly write the new legislation and have it ready by July, unless they continue the current scheme,” the Sydney University professor of employment relations said.

The current scheme, introduced by Labor, provides women with the minimum wage for 16 weeks. One suggestion from PPL critic and Nationals Senator John Williams has been to expand this to 26 weeks and add superannuation.

Mr Abbott has said he remains committed to paying women their “real wage” under his policy. Professor Baird, who is a member of the team evaluating the current PPL scheme, said it would be very complicated to work out what a recipient’s income replacement wage would be.

Earlier this month, Mr Abbott announced that he would be making changes to the paid parental leave scheme that he took to the last two elections over the summer break. While he did not give any specific detail, he said the government would be putting more money into childcare, to come up with a “holistic” families package in the new year.

The Social Services Minister said that the government would be working in a “careful, methodical way” to come up with something “positive”.

He added that childcare had been the issue that voters had been giving him feedback about.

“That’s the issue that people that a lot of people are concerned about. Costs have blown out, it’s difficult for a lot of families,” he said.

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