A recent study by Professor Marian Baird and Associate Professor Myra Hamilton from the University of Sydney claims that in the last 10 years almost all paid parental leave under the role of ‘primary carer’ has been taken by women. The paper warns that the lack of improvement of the PPL scheme has only ingrained gender inequality, both in the workplace and at home.
ABS data shows that 95% of primary carer paid parental leave was taken by mothers, and 95% of secondary carer leave was taken by fathers, despite the benefits of giving more opportunities to fathers to take parental leave and women to participate in the paid workforce.
The research paper, titled ‘Gender equality and paid parental leave in Australia: A decade of giant leaps or baby steps?’, lays out reasons why design features of the original scheme, such as prohibiting the equal sharing of leave between mothers and fathers, resulted in only women signing up for it.
Advocacy group Parents At Work says Australia's approach to paid parental leave "requires an urgent rethink from both government policymakers and employers". Australia’s PPL scheme is one of the least generous in the OECD, offering only 18 weeks compared to the OECD average of 55 weeks and providing a flat rate rather than a replacement wage. PPL in Australia is granted to the "primary" caregiver, whereas in other OECD countries it can be shared.