Parental leave a win for families

ALTHOUGH it will not benefit her directly, Grafton mother of two Jody Duroux is one Clarence Valley parent who has given the Federal Government's paid parental leave scheme a firm tick of approval.

Mrs Duroux said when she had her first child Tyreece, now four, she was able to take four months off work, but it was unpaid.

By the time she had her second child Jackson, now three, she said it was too expensive to send both children to day care. She now is a stay-at-home mum.

She said the Federal Government's Budget promise of 18 weeks paid parental leave from 2011 recognised the importance of parents spending time with their children.

“Financially, it would've really made a difference,” she said.

“Now you can form a stronger bond with your child.”

On Tuesday night, the Federal Government formally unveiled its paid parental leave scheme.

Under the scheme, from 2011 the primary care giver will be able to take 18 weeks leave at $544 a week, but will not receive the Baby Bonus or Family Tax Benefit B.

Employers will not have to contribute. Mothers who are not in paid employment will still be eligible for the $5000 Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefit B.

The leave will be means tested, with primary care givers earning more than $150,000 ineligible.

Yesterday, Unions NSW official John Hickson called the decision to introduce government funded parental leave a win for working people.

“It's an enormous victory for the union movement, it's one of the biggest issues we've been fighting for a long time,” he said.

Last year, Unions NSW sent a submission to the Productivity Commission calling for 26 weeks paid parental leave.

He said while 26 weeks had not been achieved, it was a start.

“Given the economic climate and the downturn in the economy, I think 18 weeks is very acceptable,” he said.

“It's the breakthrough that we wanted ... it leaves the door open for further negotiation in the future.”

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