Draft policy on paid parental leave

Draft policy on paid parental leave

Rationale

The Socialist Alliance has codified policy regarding paid parental leave in the Charter for Workers Rights and in previous conferences as follows:

From the Charter for Workers’ Rights:

To “Legislate 12 months' parenting leave fully paid by employer contributions to a publicly managed scheme; the right to return to the same job without losing seniority; and generous paid leave to allow parents to take time off work to care for sick children and attend school activities.”

From the 2004 Socialist Alliance Conference

3.8 Resolution on maternity leave

This Socialist Alliance National Conference:

  1. Welcomes any proposed increases in welfare payments to low income parents, especially if such increases are funded by taxing big business;
  2. Rejects claims that such payments in anyway address demands by working women and their supporters for fully paid maternity leave;
  3. Resolves to vigorously campaign around our demand for 12 months parenting leave, fully funded by employer contributions to a publicly managed scheme, and to make this one of the priority issues in our upcoming Federal election campaign;
  4. Resolves to campaign within the union movement to popularise the demand for an employer-funded scheme as an industrial entitlement - rather than a taxpayer-funded welfare scheme
  5. Resolves to seek out and build links with others campaigning around this issue.

Resolution carried unamended.

With the proposed introduction of a taxpayer funded PPL scheme by the federal government, it is timely that this conference of the SA reviews its policy in order to strengthen it. Therefore, this conference of the SA resolves to amend and enhance the policies above as follows:

Resolution

This conference:

  1. Reaffirms that PPL is an industrial entitlement for women, which should be funded by employers and not a welfare measure funded by tax payers.
  2. Replaces each reference to “paid maternity leave” with “paid parental leave”, in recognition that such leave should be extended to the primary carer, whether female or not, and whether that person has given birth to or adopted a child.
  3. Reaffirms our call for a fund to be legislated and managed publicly, which employers pay into according to a sliding scale and according to the number of employees regardless of sex.
  4. Resolves that:
    1. the current Socialist Alliance policy of 12 months PPL be extended to a legislated period of two years to enable sharing of leave between parents if they wish, establishment of breastfeeding patterns, recovery from birth and adequate care of the child/ren.
    2. Any PPL scheme contain an additional period of leave up to three months for the non-birth parent on a use it or lose it basis, which can be taken in conjunction with leave by the primary carer or separately, either in a block or in shorter periods over two years.
    3. a PPL scheme be fully portable for workers across the workforce.
    4. eligibility for PPL not be dependent on length of time in the workforce or with any individual employer.
    5. Such a scheme protects the right for parents to:
      1. full income maintenance
      2. return to their jobs with no loss in job security, permanency or classification for a period of five years from the date at which PPL is taken.
      3. return to work part time or to access other flexible work arrangements if they wish for a defined period of up to five years.
      4. continuity of service and the continuing accrual of all entitlements such as long service leave, severance, recreation and sick leave while on PPL.
      5. superannuation entitlements that are maintained at the rate payable to the employee at the time of taking PPL or better.
      6. be consulted about any changes in the workplace while on PPL.
  5. While recognising that both parents should have access to PPL, any scheme should protect a woman's choice in deciding when to commence PPL leave and how long to take it for, with respect to it being shared with a partner, and to their physical recovery from birth, which may differ from woman to woman. Women must not be forced to stay at work longer than necessary prior to the birth of a child or return to work any earlier than necessary after the birth of a child.
  6. In addition to PPL, all workers should have legislated access to Carers Leave as a separate entitlement to sick leave, adequate to the needs of parents and children, and parents should not have to dip into sick, recreation or long service leave to care for children and other family members (within a broad definition of "family".
  7. The PPL scheme currently proposed by the Rudd government is a taxpayer-funded welfare scheme, guaranteeing only the minimum wage, with no employer top ups to income or superannuation legislated. As such this scheme does not maintain the level of income of employees prior to them accessing PPL. The scheme is also not transportable, and has eligibility requirements, which make it out of reach of a significant number of women in particular and parents in general.
  8. However, while this current scheme falls way short of the kind of scheme required to ensure women’s full participation in the workforce and their access to PPL, we call for the immediate implementation of the proposed PPL scheme which has been delayed since the recommendations of the Productivity Commission, but we commit to continuing to campaign for the kind of scheme outlined above.
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