South Australian public sector workers have written to the SA Treasurer seeking to resolve an inequality in public sector workers’ leave arrangements – the exclusion of straight men from parental leave provisions.
The South Australian “Modern” Public Sector Enterprise Agreement was updated in 2017 and accommodates parental leave for all women, as well as fathers of adopted children, in the case of surrogacy and in circumstances of a homosexual relationship.
The one category excluded from accessing parental leave are new fathers in heterosexual relationships and Professionals Australia says this is unfair, penalising both men and women in heterosexual relationships.
“The Government shouldn’t determine the care arrangements for a family, that should be a decision for the family to make,” said SA Director of Professionals Australia Sarah Andrews.
“But this provision effectively leaves people in heterosexual relationships with no choice about who should care for their child after birth – only the woman has access to paid leave.
“It says – if you’re a man who is homosexual or an adopted father, you get to care for your child after birth with support from the Government, but if you’re straight, you should be back at work.
“It makes no sense that your sexuality should determine your rights to parental leave.”
The matter was brought before the SA Employment Tribunal this month after a man applied for parental leave but was rejected by his public sector employer.
The union is currently negotiating the updated workplace agreement for all public sector workers, alongside several other unions and with the Tribunal’s decision, Professionals Australia is looking to the Government. However, to date in negotiations the Government has dismissed these claims for improved access to parental leave for heterosexual men.
“It’s time that the State Government fixed this unfair provision and extended parental leave to the only group who can’t currently access it – straight men,” said Ms Andrews.
“To prohibit fathers from accessing the entitlements afforded to mothers in parenting arrangements is discriminatory and contradicts the intent of the Agreement and the Public Sector Act which requires public sector agencies to prevent unlawful discrimination.
“This discrimination permits the employer to determine the best care arrangements for a family where decisions like this are personal and to be made within the family structure.”
Media contact: Tim O’Halloran 0409 059 617