The huge news that we now have our first ever Paid Parental Leave scheme was overshadowed last week due to this (the final word on that at the end of today’s post). But in the hundreds of comments left after last week’s post, there were many questions about the detail of the scheme and many requests for a Mamamia Cheat-Sheet.
So let’s look at the facts. As researched and provided by the brilliant Mamamia contributor Julie Cowdroy …..
The new Paid Parental Leave Scheme passed the Senate last week. But what does it mean for the parents of Australia? I pored over thousands of words in the new policy to bring you some answers…
Q:When does it all start?
A: 1 January 2011. If you are due to give birth on or after 1 January 2011, or if you adopt on or after this date, you could be eligible.
Q: How do I know if I am I eligible?
A: You have to pass 3 tests:
- PPL work test: You must have:
- worked continuously for 10 of the 13 months before your due date
- worked a minimum of 330 hours over the past 10 months (this works out to be about a day a week). This means that part time and casual workers are included as well as those who are self-employed
- Income test: the primary caregiver must earn less than $150,000 per annum. Your partner’s wage is irrelevant
- Residency test: you must be an Australian citizen, or a permanent resident
Q: I’ve changed jobs. Do I still get it?
A: Yes, so long has you have not had more than an 8 week break between jobs
Q: How much does the PPL pay?
A: $569.90 per week, which will be Australia’s minimum wage as of 1 July, 2010 (a couple of weeks ago, the government increased the minimum wage by $26 from $543.78).
Q: Is this taxable income?
A: Yes. This amount will be taxed
Q: Who pays PPL?
A: The federal government funds the PPL scheme. Your employer will pass on the payments if you are a “long term employee” (which means you have been with your employer for at least 12 months prior to your due date). Otherwise payment will come to you via the Family Assistance Office.
In the start up period between 1 January 2011 and 1 July 2011, the Family Assistance Office will pay “long time employees” directly so that employers can get used to the new arrangements and because it makes more sense with the financial year.
Q: How do I apply?
A: Everyone applies through the Family Assistance Office. If you are a “long time employee”, the Family Assistance Office will notify yourself and your employer.
Q: When can I take it?
A: You can choose to take it whenever you want within the first year of having a baby so long as it starts on or after the date of the arrival of your child. You cannot take any PPL after your child’s first birthday
Q: How long does it last?
A: 18 weeks. Some conditions:
- PPL must be taken in one continuous period
- As soon as you return to work, you cannot receive PPL anymore
- Even though you cannot return to work while receiving PPL, you are able to keep in touch with your workplace. Read more about that here
Q: What about other leave entitlements I have under my current employer?
A: You are able to take any leave you have with your employer before taking PPL if you wish. This table explains some options (taken from the Family Assistance Office website)
Employers cannot pocket the government payments to fund any existing parental leave arrangements they have in place. Employers must pay both the government money and any other entitlements that already exist under workplace agreements.
Q: What if I want to go back to work? Can my partner become the primary caregiver and take the PPL?
A: If you choose to return to work before the 18 weeks is up, you may transfer the rest of the PPL payments to your partner so long as your partner passes the three tests
Q: What happens in the event of a stillbirth or an abortion?
A: In the case of a stillbirth, parents would still be entitled to PPL. The primary caregiver could also return to work and still receive the full 18 weeks PPL. A medical practitioner needs to certify that a stillborn child was delivered. Those who choose to undertake an abortion do not qualify for PPL
Q: Can I get the Baby Bonus as well as PPL?
A: If you qualify for PPL and choose to take it, you automatically forfeit the Baby Bonus unless you have multiple births
Q: Can I get Family Tax Benefits as well as PPL?
A: When calculating Family Tax Benefit Part A, you have to include PPL as part of your taxable income.
You cannot receive Family Tax Benefit Part B at the same time as PPL but once PPL payments stop, you can start receiving Family Tax Benefit Part B
Q: I’m a stay at home mother. Do I get PPL?
A: No, because you do not pass the “work test”. You are still eligible to apply for the Baby Bonus of $5185, Family Tax Benefit Part A and Family Tax Benefit Part B. These are all means tested. Go here for how much you may be entitled to.
Want more info? You can read more details of the PPL here. And you can always ask a question and Julie can try to answer it.
Oh wait, I just want to clarify one thing. When Senator Steve Fielding made his outrageous claims last week about prostitutes, prisoners, drug addicts and welfare cheats ‘rorting’ the PPL scheme, a few people on this post wondered if maybe he had a point. Well, Fairfax journalist Lenore Taylor wrote a brilliant column at the weekend that broke down exactly why Fielding’s points were nothing but attention-seeking nonsense.
“….As for prisoners, the explanatory memorandum to the paid parental leave bill does say that payments can be made to ”prisoners” but the government has clarified that this does not include prisoners in jail, who would not meet the work test under the new law.
It could apply to a small number of prisoners on pre-release programs, who do normal jobs in the community for which they received a full wage, who pay tax and who meet all the other qualifying criteria. So not those on the inside sewing ”proverbial mail bags”, whatever they might be.
A spokeswoman for the Families Minister, Jenny Macklin, says this would have been pointed out at a briefing with Senator Fielding’s staff on May 26 had they asked about the issue, but they didn’t.
A spokesman for Senator Fielding said that the senator was aware the paid leave would only be available to a small number of prisoners working in regular jobs out in the community but believed that ”a prisoner is a prisoner”.
And prostitutes? Well given that prostitution is legal under certain circumstances in all states, and those sex workers pay tax, then, yes, they could be eligible. If Senator Fielding wants to recriminalise sex work, that would be a different argument altogether.
And of course almost all the working women getting the paid leave would be neither prisoners, nor prostitutes. But prisoners and prostitutes are so much more likely to get a headline.
……”The government is saying if you choose to abort your baby at this late stage we’ll give you $7000,” claimed Ros Phillips of Family Voice Australia on Channel Seven news last month.
Actually, they are not saying that at all. Abortions do not qualify for the payment, even in the horrible circumstance that there were women prepared to carry a child for five months in order to terminate it for cash.
But anti-abortion senators, including Liberal Cory Bernardi and Nationals Ron Boswell and Barnaby Joyce understandably wanted to make absolutely sure this could not be the case and asked plenty of questions as the bill went through parliamentary processes.
They did it quietly and eventually they were satisfied that the only way a late-term abortion could qualify would be if a doctor was to criminally falsify the relevant paper work to claim that a late-term abortion was in a fact a stillbirth.
Enter Senator look-at-me Steve. ”Drug addicts and welfare cheats can get themselves pregnant and then after 20 weeks have an abortion and still pocket the government’s cash,” he said during Wednesday’s Senate debate, despite having been told that this was not true. Wow. Drug addicts and welfare cheats – almost as easy to beat up on as prisoners and prostitutes.
Not only was it a lie that abortions would qualify for the payments, but welfare recipients (cheating or otherwise) would also not qualify because they were not in paid work. Nor are many drug addicts, for that matter.
The senator’s efforts managed to unite the right and the left of the Senate in universal disgust.”
Just wanted to get that straight……