Sunday was Father’s Day in Australia (and New Zealand) and dads-to-be got a present from the federal government — or rather, the promise of one. Starting In January 2013 they will be entitled to two weeks paid paternity leave on the minimum wage, currently $590 a week before tax.

Already about 75 per cent of fathers take leave after the birth of a baby, but the time is short and they often have to dip into annual leave. The government’s Productivity Commission has argued that paid leave would reduce pressure on families and send a strong signal that taking time out of the paid workforce to care for children was part of the usual course of life.

The government wants to maximise the time dads take off during “the crucial early months” by legislating to prevent its paid leave entitlement being taken at the same time as employer-funded leave”. And dad cannot transfer his leave to mum.

The scheme has already been delayed while the government scratched around for ways to fund it. Let’s hope that the Aussie economy holds up long enough to see the scheme actually launched.


Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet