Submission to the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2022

April 27, 2023

Work and Workers

Per Capita has considered the Bill and is supportive of its aims.  We acknowledge that it is the next step in building a fairer more securing workplace relations system, after years of neglect, and look forward to making further submissions relating to governments agenda of closing the loopholes some businesses use to undercut worker security.

This submission focuses primarily on the unpaid parental leave provisions in this Bill, which we view as an important accessory to the governments paid parental leave policy.

Per Capita has written extensively about the impact of parental leave policy on gender equity in the workplace, and we welcome these changes.

The Bill provides greater flexibility for working families by changing how unpaid parental leave (‘UPL’) can be taken.  By increasing the provision for flexible unpaid parental leave, allowing UPL to be taken in the weeks preceding birth, and removing ‘employee couple’ and ‘concurrent leave’ provisions, the Bill promotes shared caring responsibilities and gender equality.

International comparison of parental leave policies, conducted by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency  (‘WEGA’), shows that the use of parental leave by fathers increases when entitlements are generous, and when policies offer flexibility about when leave can be used.  When parental leave is provided equally to men and women, and is not transferable between partners, men’s take-up of parental leave is significantly higher, women are more likely to return to the workforce at the same level, and working the same hours, as before becoming a parent, and the economic penalty on mothers is vastly reduced.