ACT Independent Senator David Pocock is moving an amendment to the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) Bill 2022 that seeks to better support small business in these important reforms.
Senator Pocock warmly welcomed changes contained in the bill as a good first step in improving Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave but said it needs to go further, increasing the number of weeks and also adding a superannuation payment.
In addition to these changes, Senator Pocock is hoping to use this opportunity to also alleviate the burden on small businesses from administering the scheme by giving them the option to either pay Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave directly or via Services Australia.
Services Australia currently administers around 40 percent of Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave payments.
Local businesses and their representatives have been raising this for over a decade now and have renewed their concerns in the context of the most recent reforms.
Senator Pocock said this is a simple way to make things easier for small business people and reduce any risk of disincentives to employment.
“These paid parental leave reforms are a great step forward but we can make them even better,” Senator Pocock said.
“One local business owner, Kate from the Healthy Eating Clinic, told me how her small business employing 11 people has seen fortnightly payroll processing time blow out from half an hour to two hours. Kate described it as unnecessarily complicated, confusing and time consuming.
“That lost time is precious and adds up for a small business, especially when the function could easily be done by Services Australia.
“Mount Majura Vineyard is another example where they are delivering top-up paid parental leave payments to one of their team members but would love the base payment to be made directly by Services Australia.
“This isn’t a big ask; it’s simply giving small businesses a bit of extra flexibility. It won’t delay the current reforms and I’m proposing a 12 month lead in period to enable Services Australia time to adjust their systems.
“The proportion of women owning small businesses is also on the rise, especially in the micro-business sector and we need to make sure they aren’t spending time on admin unnecessarily.
“It is really important that government and others across the parliament are listening to small business people and working with them to get the best outcomes for parents now and in the longer term.
“I hope this is something my parliamentary colleagues can step in and support small business on.”
Small businesses will retain the ability to opt in to the scheme.