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Unions question Abbott about paid parental leave
YESTERDAY the Australian Council of Trade Unions sent a letter to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to seek clarification about his proposed paid parental leave scheme.
This comes after the CPSU (SPSFT) told Members there was a very real risk that State Public Sector workers would miss out on Tony Abbott’s proposed 26 week paid maternity leave scheme.
The ACTU’s letter questions the implications for Australia’s public sector employees, who could be likely to forgo their workplace entitlements under the scheme.
In the letter Ged Kearney writes: “As you know, through their unions, both private and public sector employees have bargained for paid parental leave entitlements for decades, often by trading off other wages and conditions. The current paid parental leave scheme is designed to provide a tax payer funded safety net of 18 week’s pay at the minimum wage, which employees and employers may bargain to ‘top up’ through their workplace agreements. This is not ‘double dipping’- rather it is a sharing of employer and tax payer contributions towards employee paid parental leave.”
The letter asks the following questions of Mr Abbott:
1. Does the definition of ‘public sector’ employee include employees of Federal, State and Territory governments, local governments, corporatised bodies, universities and / or any other groups?
2. Will the viability of the proposed paid parental leave scheme be affected should not all States, Territories, local government or other employing bodies agree to contribute to funding the Federal scheme?
3. What are the implications for public sector employees employed by States, Territories, local governments or other employing bodies who have not contributed to funding the Federal scheme?
4. In particular we seek a commitment from the Coalition, that should it win government, it will commit to ensure public sector employees will be able to access the federal paid parental leave entitlement irrespective of whether their employer has reached a funding contribution agreement with the federal government.
5. Will public sector workers no longer be able to bargain for paid parental leave and associated entitlements (such as financial incentives to return to work or financial assistance for childcare) as will private sector organisations, or will these bargaining matters also be restricted?
6. Many workplace agreements include their own stand-alone paternity leave entitlement. Is this leave also to be removed from public sector employee entitlements?
7. What administrative arrangements will be required for public sector workers to “opt in” or “opt out” of either the federal paid parental leave scheme or their employer provided paid parental leave?
8. How will the opting in and opting out process be overseen by Centrelink and will intentional and unintentional breaches of rules apply in a similar strict liability basis as other social security fraud prosecutions?
9. The ACTU has a range of concerns about other technical and transitional arrangements, including how the proposed scheme might interact with the National Employment Standards.
You can read the full letter below.
Read the previous CPSU article here.