Senate debates

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013; In Committee

12:06 pm

Photo of Jan McLucasJan McLucas (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Mental Health) Share this | Hansard source

by leave—I move opposition amendments (1) and (5) on sheet 7456, together:

(1) Title, page 1 (line 11), omit "student assistance,".

(5) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 4), omit the table item.

Question agreed to.

I move opposition amendment (14) on sheet 7456:

(14) Schedule 7, page 103 (line 1) to page 110 (line 24), omit the Schedule, substitute:

Schedule 7—Paid parental leave Paid Parental Leave Act 2010

1 Section 4 (paragraph relating to Part 3 -5)

Repeal the paragraph, substitute:

2 Section 6 (definition of acceptance notice )

Omit "section 103", substitute "paragraphs 103(1)(a) and (2)(a)".

3 Section 6 (definition of employer determination )

Omit "section 101", substitute "subsections 101(1) and (1A)".

4 Section 6


   non -acceptance notice: see paragraph 103(2)(b).

5 Section 100 (first paragraph)

Repeal the paragraph, substitute:

6 Section 100 (third paragraph)

Repeal the paragraph, substitute:

7 Subsection 101(1)

Omit "under this section", substitute "under this subsection".

8 After paragraph 101(1)(a)


  (aa) the employer employs 20 or more employees; and

9 After subsection 101(1)


  (1A) The Secretary must make a determination under this subsection (the employer determination) that a person's employer is to pay the person instalments if the Secretary is satisfied, when making the determination, that:

     (a) a payability determination that parental leave pay is payable to the person, or an initial eligibility determination for the person, is in force; and

     (b) the employer employs fewer than 20 employees; and

     (c) the employer has made an election under section 109 to pay instalments and that election applies to the person; and

     (d) the person has consented in the claim to the employer paying instalments to the person; and

     (e) if paragraphs (b) to (d) are satisfied in relation to more than one employer of the person—the person nominated the employer in the claim as the employer who would be required to pay instalments to the person.

10 Paragraph 101(3)(a)

After "subsection (1)", insert "or (1A)".

11 Paragraph 101(3)(b)

After "paragraph (1)(a)", insert "or (1A)(a)".

12 Subsection 101(4)

Omit "subsection (1)", substitute "subsections (1) and (1A)".

13 Section 103

Repeal the section, substitute:

103 Employer response to notice of employer determination

(1) If an employer is given a notice under section 102 that an employer determination has been made under subsection 101(1), the employer must, within 14 days after the date of the notice, do one of the following:

  (a) give the Secretary a written notice (the acceptance notice) that complies with section 104;

  (b) apply for a review of the employer determination under Part 5-1 or 5-2.

Note: This subsection is a civil penalty provision (see section 146).

(2) If an employer is given a notice under section 102 that an employer determination has been made under subsection 101(1A), the employer may, within the period referred to in subsection (3):

  (a) give the Secretary a written notice (the acceptance notice) that complies with section 104; or

  (b) give the Secretary notice (the non-acceptance notice), orally or in writing, declaring that the employer does not accept the employer's obligations to pay instalments to the person.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (2), the period is 14 days, or such longer period allowed by the Secretary, after the date of the notice given under section 102.

14 Paragraph 106(c)

After "subsection 101(1)", insert "or (1A)".

15 Subsection 108(1) (after table item 1)


16 Subsection 108(1) (table item 2, column 1)

Omit "section 103", substitute "subsection 103(1)".

17 Subsection 108(1) (after table item 2)


18 Section 146 (cell at table item 10, column 1)

Repeal the cell, substitute:

19 Paragraphs 157(1)(b) and 159(1)(b)

Omit "section 103", substitute "subsection 103(1)".

20 Subsections 203(2) and 207(1)

Omit "section 101", substitute "subsection 101(1)".

21 Subsection 207(5)

Omit "section 103", substitute "subsection 103(1)".

22 Subsection 207(5) (note)

Omit "Section 103", substitute "Subsection 103(1)".

23 Application of amendments

The amendments made by this Schedule apply in relation to an employer determination that is made on or after the commencement of this Schedule in relation to a claim for parental leave pay that is made before, on or after that commencement.

This goes to the Paid Parental Leave scheme changes. The legislation the government is proposing seeks to remove the role of the employer in administering paid parental leave for its employees, and give that function to Centrelink. The amendments Labor is proposing today limit the applicability of this measure to employers with 20 employees or fewer. These amendments get the balance right and reflect the sensible position that we took to the 2013 federal election.

Already more than 340,000 women have accessed Labor's Paid Parental Leave scheme—Australia's first paid parental leave scheme—since it was introduced in January 2011. Around 40,000 dads and same-sex partners have accessed Labor's Dad and Partner Pay since this progressive scheme began in 2013. We are very proud of having introduced Australia's first paid parental leave scheme. We note there is a growing chorus of people, including from big business and within the coalition's own ranks, calling on the Prime Minister to shelve the government's unfair and, frankly, unaffordable Paid Parental Leave scheme.

When we designed Australia's first paid parental leave scheme we included the employer role for a number of really important reasons. It was included to help employers retain their skilled staff. It was also a way of enabling women to remain connected to their workplace and their careers when they take time out of the workforce to have a baby or adopt a child. As the scheme progressed we listened to business and understood that in tough economic environments small businesses needed to be able to devote their scarce time to adapting and thriving in a changing economy. That is why we adopted the position reflected in these amendments: to enable small business to streamline administration and have Centrelink administer paid parental leave on their behalf. These amendments strike the right balance. They provide for employers to be able to maintain a relationship with their employees while they are on paid parental leave. They also allow small businesses to choose for Centrelink to administer paid parental leave on their behalf if it suits them.

The government's bill abolishes the role of the employer in its entirety. It does not strike the right balance. It severs that really important link between an employer and its employees. This is not good for women and their families and, frankly, it is not good for employers, and that is why we have made the amendments.


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