The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Amendment Bill has been passed to extend the duration of paid parental leave.
The new law will increase the duration of parental leave payments over three years and two stages:
- an increase from 18 to 22 weeks from 1 July 2018
- a further increase to 26 weeks from 1 July 2020.
The extension aims to support working families with newborns and young children and help reduce financial stress. It will allow more time for bonding with their children for those carers who are not in a position to take additional unpaid leave. It will also help facilitate exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months (as recommended by the World health Organisation.
The new law also proportionately increases the number of Keeping in Touch days. These allow parents to do limited work while on parental leave, if they choose to, for example to attend a team day or change announcement.
The Keeping in Touch days will increase:
- from 40 to 52 hours from 1 July 2018;
- to 64 hours from 1 July 2020.
This will help support workers who may be away from their workplace for a longer period to still maintain contact with their employer and keep abreast of any changes, and for the employer to continue to be connected with their employee.