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Count unpaid parental leave towards long service: Labor

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Unpaid parental leave would be counted towards long service entitlements under changes being considered by the state Opposition.

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SA Labor will investigate amendments to the state Long Service Leave Act, after a motion was passed at the weekend’s ALP Convention decrying the fact long service leave does not accrue during unpaid parental leave.

“This is unfair and disproportionately affects women who often take on the primary caring responsibilities after having a new baby,” read the motion, moved by the Labor Women’s Network.

“It is also discourages other partners, mums and dads from taking time off work to help care for their newborn.”

The group argued “no parent should be penalised for wanting to spend more time at home when their kids are born”.

It follows similar changes last year by the Andrews Labor Government in Victoria, which amended that state’s legislation to ensure “any period of paid parental leave and up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave will count as service, and no amount of parental leave will break continuity of service”.

The SA Act doesn’t specifically refer to parental leave, but does not allow long service entitlements to accrue during periods of unpaid leave.

The motion to convention called on the party “to investigate changes to the Long Service Leave Act whereby any period of unpaid parental leave up to 12 months will count as service”.

It was spoken to by Lucy Hood, an adviser to Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas, who told the 200 delegates: “We already know women leave the workforce with significantly less retirement savings than men… a contributing factor is that women often take time out of paid work to raise a family.”

Hood, who has been previously touted for preselection, said working mothers were further “disadvantaged by our unfair and outdated Long Service Leave Act – whereby long service leave does not accrue during unpaid parental leave”.

Lucy Hood at the SA Labor Convention. Photo via Facebook

“No parent should be penalised for, or discouraged from, taking more time off work to spend with their children when they are born,” she said.

“Not only will this measure ensure a parent’s long service leave is not negatively impacted by taking unpaid parental leave, it will go a long way in recognising and valuing the important role of unpaid parental leave.”

She said “raising healthy, happy kids is critical to our state’s future success” and was “a service to our society and to our economy… that should be acknowledged”.

The parliamentary Labor Party is bound to work towards implementing convention resolutions.

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