Kate Carnell

ASBFEO backs new parental leave scheme

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has shown its support for a new parental leave scheme announced by the government.

On Tuesday, Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer announced its Women’s Economic Security Statement, with $109 million to be invested over four years.

Under the new policy, parents will be allowed to take a minimum 12-week block within the first year before becoming eligible to take the remaining six weeks within two years following the birth or adoption of their child.

Under the current system, new parents are eligible to take 18 weeks of paid parental leave but must use it in one block.

ASBFEO Kate Carnell said small business owners will appreciate the flexibility of the new-look scheme.

She said the new policy is more family friendly and small business friendly, and gives parents the ability to make choices on how they manage these two very crucial years.

“Mum and dad business owners often don’t get to use their whole paid parental leave entitlement because they have to be back at work soon after the baby is born; sometimes as soon as a couple of weeks,” Ms Carnell said.

“To expect a self-employed parent to exit their small business for an 18-week block is unrealistic and unworkable.”

Further, Ms Carnell said she would ideally like the government to consider allowing small business owners flexibility around the use of the first 12 weeks as well.

“Today, 34 per cent of all Australian business operators are women and they need to be able to organise their business in a way that works for them after having a baby,” Ms Carnell said.

“While you have to take the first 12 weeks as a block in the first year, the flexible use of the remaining six weeks will go a long way to ensure their small business can maintain momentum. It will allow part-time work arrangements or small blocks to be taken at a time that suits the new parent.”

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