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Workplace Relations (Guaranteeing Paid Maternity Leave) Amendment Bill 2007 [2008]

Schedule 1 Amendment to the Workplace Relations Act 1996

1  At the end of section 265

Add:

             (5)  An employee who is eligible for maternity leave under this section or who is eligible for adoption leave under subsection 300(1) of this Act is entitled to receive an additional payment of the equivalent of the amount of the Federal Minimum Wage for a period of up to 14 weeks (this additional payment to be known as paid maternity leave ), as determined by the Australian Fair Pay Commission from time to time, in addition to the wages or salary of the eligible employee.  

Note:          As at August 2007, the minimum wage is $511.76 per week. From October 2007, the minimum wage will be $522.12.

             (6)  For the purposes of subsection (5), an employee means an eligible employee, an eligible casual employee or a regular part-time employee.

             (7)  For the purposes of subsection (5), the amount of paid maternity leave granted to an employee must be not more than the amount which is pro-rata in accordance with the amount of time worked by the employee in accordance with subsection (6).

Example:    If an employee works part-time at a rate of 50% at the time of a full-time employee, that part-time employee is eligible for 50% of the paid maternity leave entitlement.

             (8)  An employee may elect to convert the entitlement provided for in subsection (5) to the equivalent of the amount of one half of the Federal Minimum Wage for a period of not more than 28 weeks.

             (9)  The paid maternity leave provided for in subsection (5) is payable to eligible employees by means of a payment which must be made by the Commonwealth to the employers of eligible employees. Employers must then make the payment directly to their employees through established payment systems.

           (10)  The paid maternity leave provided for in subsection (5) does not affect or reduce any other entitlement that the employee may have under the terms of any other employment agreement, award or law.

           (11)  Notwithstanding other provisions of this section, Commonwealth, State or Territory government employees who are eligible for paid maternity leave otherwise than in accordance with this section are not eligible for paid maternity leave provided for in subsection (5). It is payable to other employees who meet the eligibility requirements.

           (12)  The paid maternity leave provided for in subsection (5) is for mothers in recognition of the physical demands of the later stages of pregnancy, birth, recovery from birth, and establishment, where possible, of breast feeding. It is not intended as a transferable payment between employee and spouse except in exceptional circumstances.

           (13)  The paid maternity leave provided for in subsection (5) is to be treated as wage and salary income for the purposes of taxation, superannuation and other relevant laws and agreements.

           (14)  The provisions of subsections (5) to (15) do not derogate from existing paid maternity leave provisions of enterprise or workplace agreements, nor will they derogate from the employee’s entitlement to any related Commonwealth maternity payments.

           (15)  Workplace paid maternity leave provisions established before the commencement of this section may be extended by the provisions of this section with the consent of the employer and employee.

2  After section 316

Insert:

Subdivision L Inquiry and review

316A   Inquiry into paid maternity leave

             (1)  The Minister must give the Department a written direction to hold a public inquiry about a specified matter concerning:

                     (a)  the cost of providing paid maternity leave to self-employed women including farming women;

                     (b)  the feasibility of extending the eligibility for paid maternity leave to self-employed women including farming women.

             (2)  When the Minister gives a direction under subsection (1) about a particular public inquiry, the Minister may direct the Department to:

                     (a)  consult with one or more specified persons, bodies or agencies in connection with the conduct of the inquiry; and

                     (b)  have regard to one or more specified matters in connection with the conduct of the inquiry, one of which matters must be the possibility of extending paid maternity leave to self-employed women including farming women.

316B   Review of operation of subdivision

             (1)  The Minister must initiate, by the third anniversary of the day on which this subdivision commences, a review of the operation and effectiveness of this subdivision, including:

                     (a)  an analysis of the effectiveness of the scheme whereby employers may make voluntary contributions to employees to support their paid maternity leave which are in addition to the minimum government paid maternity leave; and

                     (b)  an analysis of the scope and impact of the circumstances when an employee’s remuneration has been increased from the minimum wage to a greater agreed amount.

             (2)  The Minister must cause to be tabled in both Houses of the Parliament a copy of the report of the review within 15 sitting days of receiving the report.