pregnancy

There is one despicable detail no one is talking about in the new paid parental leave scheme.

Planning for a family takes many forms.

You re-vamp your diet, out go the G&T’s after work and in come the prenatal vitamins.

You re-vamp your car to fit that essential newborn capsule in the backseat and you finally put the junk in the spare room on Gumtree so you can fit in all the baby essentials.

There is one other thing too that needs a re-vamp – your budget. You are going to need time off work, you are going to need an income during this time, you have a future now filled with expenses never before contemplated – from baby bottles to childcare and school fees.

The women currently pregnant are the ones in the greatest limbo. Via IStock.
paid parental leave.

These woman – due to have their babies in January or after -  are the forgotten about causalities of this political game. They are the forgotten ones.

The changes to the paid parental leave were initially flagged in the 2015 budget with a plan to crack down on the “double dippers” so that government entitlements will only “top up” workplace benefits to give parents a total of 18 weeks leave.

The idea is that eligible parents who receive less than 18 weeks of employer-provided paid parental leave will receive a top-up payment of government funded paid parental leave so that the total number of weeks of employer-provided and government funded leave is 18 weeks. While parents receiving employer provided paid parental leave of 18 weeks or more will no longer be able to receive government funded paid parental leave. The legislation introduced into parliament last week has a potential start date of January 1, 2017.

It is estimated 80,000 women each year will be worse off under the changes.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, told Mamamia:  "This revised paid parental leave policy provides an important safety net for families who do not have access to employer schemes, or only have access to a few weeks of funded leave, while being fairer for Australian taxpayers."

But it is not fairer for all Australian taxpayers.

The start date for the changes could be as soon as January 1 and couples already pregnant are left in the lurch.

Labor has said it will never vote to tighten access to parental leave payments and it's hopeful Senate crossbenchers will all oppose the move.

Opposition families spokeswoman, Jenny Macklin, called it an attack on mothers.

“This is a direct attack on paid parental leave, a direct attack on those mothers who are trying to combine their work and family responsibilities and will leave thousands and thousands of new mothers in this country worse off.”

Senator Nick Xenophon said that he believes that start date should be October 1.  His party's three senators are crucial to getting the changes through.

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"I do believe, and I've discussed this with my colleagues, that having any such scheme as proposed by the government to start on January 1 would be manifestly unfair for any woman that is pregnant."

Thank goodness for Mr Xenophon.

As the uncertainty of whether or not the changes will even pass, and in what form means that thousands of women right around Australia simply cannot plan for an event only months away.

Can you image being so close to such massive changes in your life and not being able to make any financial plans?

Can you image facing on top of the anxiety of being pregnant anxiety about just whether you can afford the baby or not?

Amy Shipp is one of these women, currently pregnant with twins, she told Fairfax Media she was devastated about the proposed changes.

"How can they make changes with less than 12 months' notice?” she said.

"We were already financially stretched, where are we going to find an extra 12 grand in three months?"

Ms Shipp wrote to the crossbenchers this week:

"Maternity leave is such a small amount of time in a woman's working life and to have support during this time is crucial not just to raise happy, healthy children but to encourage women to stay connected and contributing member of society,” she wrote.

"The majority of people hit will be middle to low income earners; in jobs that are mainly serviced by women."

Other pregnant women have even considered how they can induce their labour to bring on their birth earlier - if the changes are introduced in January.

Nine News reports Chloe Cane, who is six-and-a-half months pregnant, had discussed the idea.

"I have spoken to a couple of mums who have said 'oh I am due the first week of January, well what can I do to go into labour before the first of January?'" Ms Cane said.

These are the women facing ongoing daily stress as they wait in limbo.

When do they return to work, how will they pay their rent or mortgage, how will they budget for their other children, and the big one what on earth they will do about childcare?

It's all left up in the air because of this continued instability.

Let's hope Senator Xenophon sticks to his word, let's hope Social Services Minister Christian Porter is listening. Let's hope things change.  Because, as Jo Briskey from the Parenthood lobby said, there is nothing fair about these changes and those facing the brunt of the unfairness are already pregnant.