Thursday, 17 June 2010
Paid Parental Leave Bill 2010; Paid Parental Leave (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2010
I am happy to move that amendment—I was yesterday too when I stood up, but it was the wrong one. Please correct me, Chair, if I am wrong in my second attempt. I move government amendment (6) on sheet AF249:
(6) Page 86 (after line 29), at the end of Division 2, add:
99A Payment of paid parental leave does not affect other employer obligations
An obligation of an employer to pay a person parental leave pay under this Act is in addition to any other obligation the employer may have in relation to the person, however that other obligation might arise (including, for example, under another law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory, or an industrial instrument (however described)).
I think there was some debate about this yesterday when I was not in the chamber. This amendment seeks to address a question that was raised at the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the paid parental leave bill as to whether the government’s scheme was offering entitlements that were in addition to those that already exist or whether employers could use the government funding to offset their own schemes. The government’s legal advice is that the clear implication from the bill as originally drafted is that employers cannot use parental leave pay to fulfil an existing obligation to provide paid parental leave. However, the inquiry process revealed a degree of speculation about the issue, and senators rightly pursued those issues. This amendment seeks to put that matter beyond doubt. The amendment makes it clear that an employer cannot use government funded parental leave pay to meet an obligation to provide employer funded paid parental leave—for example, under an employment contract or industrial agreement.
This amendment clarifies that our paid parental leave is in addition to any existing employer entitlements that may exist from time to time. Nothing in this amendment affects the negotiation processes under the Fair Work Act. Enterprise agreements can be renegotiated in accordance with the provisions of the Fair Work Act, and common law contracts can also be renegotiated and varied in accordance with the law. This amendment simply confirms that the government’s PPL cannot be used to satisfy any other employer obligations, as they may exist from time to time. I request that the Senate support the amendment.