NSW sets a new standard on parental leave

12 June 2022

Teachers, nurses, firefighters and other public sector workers across the State will be encouraged to share childcaring responsibilities between partners under an overhaul of the NSW Government’s paid parental leave scheme.

From October, there will no longer be a distinction between a ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’ carer, meaning every mother and father in the public sector will be entitled to at least 14 weeks’ paid parental leave.

The NSW Government will also offer parents an additional 2 weeks’ ‘bonus leave’ if paid parental leave entitlements are more equally shared between partners.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said the new initiatives in the 2022-23 NSW Budget were part of the government’s ongoing commitment to supporting the needs of modern families across NSW.

“While most parents across Australia are entitled to paid primary parental leave, only 12 per cent of those who take it are men,” Mr Perrottet said.

“Supporting all parents to spend more precious days with their newborn children helps them form bonds that last a lifetime.”

The NSW Government will also expand the window in which public servants can take paid parental leave from one year to two years after birth, and extend paid parental leave to long-term or permanent foster carers.

Treasurer Matt Kean said as the largest employer in Australia, the NSW Government hopes that private companies and other governments will follow its lead.

“Children don’t see their parents as ‘primary carers’ or ‘secondary carers’ – just as mums or dads,” Mr Kean said.                             

“Encouraging more dads to take up parental leave is crucial to supporting all parents to be able to choose to have a career, have a family or have both.”

Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor said strong parental leave entitlements play a major role in supporting women’s economic opportunity.

“These changes to our parental leave offerings will encourage more equal sharing of caring responsibilities right from the start of a child’s life,” Mrs Taylor said.

Minister for Employee Relations Damien Tudehope said he hopes as many parents as possible take up the opportunity to spend time with their young children.

“The NSW Government understands the needs of young families and the benefits to productivity and performance that can be unleashed by supporting employees to balance parenthood with paid work,” Mr Tudehope said.

The ‘bonus leave’ scheme is one of the first of its kind in Australia and will apply where each parent (including parents employed outside the public sector) takes at least 12 weeks’ parental leave and exhausts any paid parental leave offered by their employers. Single parents will be entitled to the full 16 weeks of paid parental leave.

The paid parental leave reform comes following the NSW Government’s recent announcement that it will start offering workers in the public sector five days’ fertility leave, recognising the time demands of IVF and other reproductive treatments.

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