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(Australian Associated Press)
More women will be able to access the federal government’s paid parental leave scheme under measures brought before parliament.
Government minister Dan Tehan introduced the draft laws to the lower house on Wednesday, saying the proposal would help more working mothers by changing the test for receiving payments.
If passed, the new scheme would begin from January next year, and is expected to cost about $6.7 million over four years.
Pregnant women working in industries without safe job alternatives – such as in mining or horseracing – would be able to bring forward their work test period.
Currently, women meet the work test if they have worked for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to giving birth or adopting.
For women in unsafe jobs the 13-month period would be counted from when they finish work, due to the hazardous nature of the role.
Extra flexibility would also be added to the scheme, with families able to split their parental leave period into blocks.
Parents will be able to have a gap of up to 12 weeks – up from eight weeks – between two working days and still meet the test.
The changes are part of Australia’s first women’s economic security statement, which was launched last November.