CTH Considering Bill To Make Changes To The Work Test For Paid Parental Leave

Friday 4 October 2019 @ 2.07 p.m. | Industrial Law | Legal Research

On 11 September 2019 the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Work Test) Bill 2019 (Cth) (the “Bill”) was introduced to the House of Representatives.  The Bill passed the Lower House on 19 September 2019 and was introduced to the Senate later on the same day. The Bill was initially introduced by the Hon Dan Tehan, Minister for Education, and proposes to amend the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (Cth) (the “Act”).

Overview of the Bill

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (“EM”), the Bill aims to introduce (in part) “the measure affecting Paid Parental Leave, announced in the Federal Government’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook 2018-19 ['MYEFO'] measure ‘Extending Access to Parental Leave Pay’.”

The MYEFO statement  announced:

“The Women’s Economic Security Package invests $119.2 million over four years to focus efforts on further improving workforce participation, earning potential and economic independence. The package includes a number of measures, including boosting entrepreneurship in girls and young women through the Future Female Founders and Boosting Female Founders programs ... [it] also provides primary carers of children with better access to Parental Leave Pay and more flexibility in how it is used.”

This Bill makes amendments to the Act in order to make improvements to the Work Test Arrangements to ensure more working mothers are eligible for Parental Leave Pay. The amendments to the Paid Parental Leave work test will to take into account the circumstances of pregnant employees who are "unable to continue in their job because the hazardous nature of their employment presents a risk to their pregnancy and there is no safe job alternative available".

Outline of the Proposed Amendments

According to the Explanatory Memorandum, under the current Paid Parental Leave Scheme, a person will meet the Paid Parental Leave work test where they have:

  • worked for at least 10 months of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption of their child; and
  • worked for at least 330 hours in that 10-month period with no more than an eight- week gap between two working days.

The proposed amendments will provide for the permissible break in the Paid Parental Leave work test to be extended from eight weeks to 12 weeks between two working days.

The Explanatory Memorandum indicates the amendments will also allow the work test period for a pregnant woman in an unsafe job to be moved from the “13-month period prior to the birth of her child to the 13-month period before she had to cease work due to the hazards connected with her employment and the subsequent risk to her pregnancy”.

Minister’s Speech

In his second reading speech to Parliament, Mr Tehan said:

“… the measure in this bill is designed to support more working mothers to access paid parental leave. The measures in this bill were outlined in our Women's economic security statement that builds on the success we have had to date in removing barriers for women's economic participation … This bill provides for a more generous work test to make it fairer for women who have a long and genuine working history yet still often fail the work test because of the industry in which they are employed … From 1 January 2020, a longer break between two working days will be allowed under the paid parental leave work test rules.”

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Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Work Test) Bill 2019 (Cth) - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne Service 

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