The New South Wales government’s new parental leave policy has officially come into effect, allowing public sector employees to access up to 14 weeks of paid parental leave.
The policy applies to any public sector worker who is the primary caregiver of a child born on or after July 1, including full-time, part-time, ongoing, and temporary government employees.
Under the expanded scheme, the ‘other’ parent will also be able to access two weeks’ paid parental leave at the time of birth, adoption or surrogacy — an increase of one week from the existing entitlement.
The ‘other’ parent will also be able to access the remaining 12 weeks’ paid parental leave if they become the primary caregiver and their partner has returned to work or study.
Parents will be paid within 12 months of the date of birth, adoption or surrogacy, under the policy.
The union representing NSW public sector employees, the Public Service Association, has been campaigning for equal parental leave for state public servants for 10 years. The union described the new policy as a ‘huge win for the parents of NSW, and for gender equity’ when it was first advised of the planned change earlier this year.
Special minister of state Don Harwin said the NSW government was proud to update the policy to better reflect the needs of today’s parents.
“The old maternity leave scheme was not sufficient as it did not allow for families where birth-mothers were not the primary caregiver to access sufficient leave to care for their child. This is great news for new parents who will now have access to the same leave entitlements as birth-mothers,” he said.
“This furthers gender equality in the workplace and ensures that all parents can take appropriate leave to care for their newborn.”
Harwin said it was expected the scheme would help families to better balance work and family life, support both parents to be involved in raising children, and support women in their return to the workforce.
NSW’s paid parental leave is in addition to the federal government scheme, in line with its previous form.
The government’s new arrangements for public sector employees who have experienced a miscarriage or pre-term birth have also come into effect on July 1, enabling these employees to access five days’ paid leave.