10 March, 2010

Is this a new Work Choice?

Well, it must be an election year. It's vote-buying time, and Tony Abbott reached into the barrel of pork early this week with a proposal for up to six months parental leave on full pay.

This has thrown just about everyone for a loop. It's a reversal of the position Abbott has personally taken on the issue of parental leave and has employers siding with Labor since Abbott plans to fund it with a new business tax.

What I find most curious about it though, is that Abbott didn't mention it to some of his party colleagues until the day after he announced it. Didn't Abbott become leader of the party because the previous leader had tried to dictate policy without fully consulting the parliamentary party? Perhaps this is where Turnbull went wrong - he should have used Abbott's method of asking forgiveness rather than permission.  Perhaps Turnbull shouldn't have told the party anything about his environmental policy at all. Maybe if he'd just announced it on television, he'd still be leader and it would still be Liberal policy.

Regarding paid parental leave, I'm not sure it would ever happen under a potential Liberal government. There are credible rumours that they would want to bring Work Choices back. If they did, that might mean that any or all parental leave could be traded away under new AWAs.


  1. There are a lot of employers now offering paid parental leave schemes voluntarily. In such a tight jobs market, this is one way employers are differentiating themselves in order to attract quality employees. My employer, for example, offers six months paid parental leave. The same thing has happened with employer super contributions being paid at higher rates than the statutory requirements. So will this result in the government (whoever they are at the time) being pressured to create a statutory scheme, or will self-regulation by employers be enough to satisfy the vocal lobby groups out there demanding it?

  2. Good point.
    I've always regarded self-regulation as a contradiction in terms. There are many good employers who look after their staff and there are many bad ones who will offer only as much as they are legally mandated to. I'm sure the lobbyists will not be satisfied until something is inserted into the award, and I kind of think that's fair enough. That won't stop those who offer above and beyond from continuing to do so - I just hope they are not put out by any legal requirements.