As part of its upcoming state budget, the NSW government has introduced a new paid parental leave policy for public sector workers, effective October.
There will be no distinction between ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ carer, with both parents entitled to 14 weeks of paid parental leave.
A further change is: if parental duties are not divided equally, parents can receive an additional two weeks’ leave.
Public sector workers included in the policy are teachers, nurses, firefighters and others.
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet, himself a father of seven, said the change is to address the unequal take-up of parental leave between men and women.
“While most parents across Australia are entitled to paid primary parental leave, only 12% of those who take it are men.
“Supporting all parents to spend more precious days with their newborn children helps them form bonds that last a lifetime,” Perrottet said.
Minister for women Bronnie Taylor commented the policy aims to assist women’s economic opportunities.
“These changes to our parental leave offerings will encourage more equal sharing of caring responsibilities right from the start of a child’s life,” Taylor said.
Treasurer Matt Kean added the government hopes other governments and the private sector will adopt similar policies.
Another childcare policy for healthcare workers, also part of the budget, is the extension of onsite childcare hours at four hospitals, which will be at Westmead, Bankstown-Lidcombe, Shellharbour and Shoalhaven.
On the $8 million policy, Kean said the policy was to reflect the irregular hours worked by doctors and nurses.
“This is all about looking after the little ones of those who look after our loved ones,” the treasurer said.
The NSW government’s attitude towards the public sector has been criticised recently, with a strike last week by public sector workers over a proposed 3% pay rise. Those opposed to the pay rise say it does not keep pace with inflation.
Part of the policy included a $3,000 one-off ‘thank you’ payment for healthcare staff, in recognition of the work they’ve done during the COVID-19 pandemic.