NSW public servants to receive universal parental leave

By Shannon Jenkins

April 7, 2021

TAHE is an attempt by the NSW government to have a free lunch. (AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

All New South Wales public sector employees who are primary carers will soon be able to access up to 14 weeks’ paid parental leave in the first year of their baby’s life, in a move the Public Service Association has described as a “huge win”.

The change will come into effect from July 1, 10 years after the PSA first began campaigning for equal parental leave for state public servants.

Public servants who were the maternal parent could previously access up to 14 weeks of paid parental leave, while those who were classified as the ‘other’ parent could receive one week of paid leave.

Last week, the Public Sector Industrial Relations advised the PSA that the NSW public sector parental leave entitlement would be expanded to allow the ‘other’ parent — who has primary responsibility for the care of the child not at the time of the birth, adoption or surrogacy — to access two weeks’ paid leave at the time of birth. They will also be entitled to an additional 12 weeks’ paid leave, which can be taken at 24 weeks’ half pay, in the first 12 months of the baby’s life.

Public Service Association NSW general secretary Stewart Little said that while there was no silver bullet to addressing workplace gender inequality, universal paid parental leave would make NSW public sector workplaces fairer and “paves the way for the private sector to follow”.

“This is a huge win for the parents of NSW, and for gender equity,” he said in a statement.

“This gives families more choice about how they’ll care for their new child. But it also means women will be able to more readily return to work once they’re ready, knowing that the other parent also has access to paid parental leave.

“Both parents should be able to take time to bond with their new child, to learn how to care for them, and to share the load. Neither parent should be in a position where they have to make a choice between their career or their child.”

READ MORE: What women want: survey shines light on workplace culture in NSW public sector

Little noted that the longer women spend away from the professional workforce, the harder it becomes for them to return, which can worsen the gender pay gap and harm women’s superannuation.

An anonymous PSA member and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment employee said the opportunity to access 14 weeks of fully paid parental leave would be “massive” for their family.

“It will make it so much less stressful for my wife and I to have more children. Importantly, it will enable her to complete her Masters and get back to her career as a clinical neuropsychologist,” they said.

“I recently took eight weeks off after the birth of my daughter In December last year. As a father, I only had access to one week of paid parental leave, the remaining seven weeks was scrapped together using a salad of recreation leave, accrued flex leave and leave without pay.”

READ MORE: Parental leave program empowering Victorian public servants


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