Push for 26 week parental leave
Parental leave extension
By Ewin Hannan
Unions will back a "work and family” test case seeking paid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, bonding and breastfeeding.
The ACTU Congress will also push companies to support paid parental leave of 26 weeks, a significant broadening of the Rudd Government’s scheme to be introduced from 2011.
A resolution says the ACTU will work with unions to develop and prosecute a work and family safety net adjustment test case. The objective will be to provide workers with improved paid leave for “pregnancy, childbirth, bonding and breastfeeding”.
The new benefits, if secured, would be included in the award safety net and national employment standards.
The congress’s Work and Family Policy says the Government’s introduction of 18 weeks’ paid parental leave represents a significant achievement for the union movement. But unions will map out ways to broaden the entitlements in the private sector, while pursuing further improvements with the Government.
Unions are expected to push for employer superannuation contributions to be made on paid parental leave, and to lobby for companies to top up the government scheme to a level of full income replacement.
According to the policy, unions will commit to securing increases in employer-provided paid parental leave that reach the World Health Organisation standard of 26 weeks. As part of its wages policy, the congress will commit to reducing the pay gap between men and women.