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Greens urge ACTU to back 26 weeks’ paid parental leave as workplace entitlement

The Greens have called on the Australian Council of Trade Unions to back a 26-week paid parental leave scheme at its Congress next week, in line with what the Greens’ parental leave bill offers.

The Congress will push for a broadening of the Federal Government’s proposed 18-week paid parental leave scheme to 26 weeks, and for it to include superannuation payments, it was reported today.

“The Greens hope the ACTU Congress will recognise the need for a decent paid parental leave scheme to provide for 26 weeks’ leave as a workplace entitlement, including superannuation payments,” said Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens Spokesperson for Women and Children.

“While the Rudd Government’s parental leave promise for 2011 was a welcome acknowledgement of the support for paid parental leave in the community, the current proposal falls short of delivering what is needed for new parents.

“Australian unions should be concerned that the Rudd Government’s choice of 18 weeks does not meet the 26-week benchmark supported by the World Health Organisation, Australian Breastfeeding Association and the Public Health Association.

“Eighteen weeks is also well below what is offered in comparable countries such as Canada at 28 weeks, the United Kingdom at 39 weeks, and Sweden at 47 weeks.

“It is also a concern that the Government will not enshrine its paid parental leave scheme as a workplace entitlement in the Fair Work Act.

“Rather, what the Government is currently offering is more like a dressed-up welfare payment.”

Senator Hanson-Young said the ACTU should back her Private Member’s Bill for Paid Parental Leave, which was introduced in the Senate a fortnight ago.

“The only legislation currently before the Parliament, ready to be debated, is the Greens’ Bill for 26 weeks’ government-funded paid parental leave,” she said.

“The Greens’ Bill recognises paid parental leave as a workplace entitlement, providing a decent amount of leave for new parents, and importantly, includes superannuation payments.

“The Greens urge the ACTU Congress to support a federal paid parental leave scheme of 26 weeks as a proper workplace entitlement when it meets to discuss the issue next Tuesday.”

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