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Self-employed to qualify for paid parental leave

7 December 2005 Media Statement

Self-employed to qualify for paid parental leave

Self-employed mothers will be eligible for 14 weeks paid parental leave from July 2006 under legislation referred to the transport and industrial relations select committee yesterday. The leave is currently available only to employees.

Labour Minister Ruth Dyson said more than 52,000 working parents had benefited from paid parental leave on the birth or adoption of a child since the scheme was introduced in 2002.

“This legislation reflects the Labour-led government’s commitment to support working families. It will extend paid parental leave to a range of self-employment activity including the working arrangements of farming families.

“Around 2170 self-employed women each year are expected to benefit, giving them and their partners the opportunity to bond with their new babies, establish parenting and balance family commitments without added financial pressure.”

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Paid Parental Leave for Self-Employed Persons) Amendment Bill provides for 14 weeks paid parental leave for self-employed mothers who have been working an average of 10 hours a week or more for either six or 12 months immediately before the birth or adoption of a child. Like employees, they can transfer this leave to their eligible partners, including those in same-sex relationships.

Self-employed women will be entitled to paid parental leave if they are engaged in more than one type of work consecutively, and/or if they have a break of 30 days or less between engagements. They will have to stop working while receiving payments, but will be able to maintain a level of oversight of their business.

Payments will equal their average weekly income, up to the maximum of $357.30 a week currently paid to employees. Those who make a loss or earn less than the minimum wage for at least 10 hours work a week will be entitled to payments for 10 hours a week at the minimum wage (currently $95 per week before tax).

In another amendment under the bill, employees will be eligible for a second or subsequent period of paid parental leave if their expected date of delivery or adoption is at least six months after they return to work from previous leave, down from 12 months at present. Self-employed women will be eligible for paid parental leave for subsequent children six months after receiving previous payments.

From 1 December 2005, paid parental leave for employees was extended from 13 to 14 weeks.

ENDS

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