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01 November 2016

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: WHY PPL DISCRIMINATES AGAINST BUSINESSWOMEN

By Kate Carnell

My first born came earlier than expected, and so it was that my baby daughter was only a few hours old when duty called me back to my small business pharmacy. 

There were bills to be paid; payroll to be organised; rosters to sort out; the list went on.  On top of that, I had to find a relief pharmacist to step-in ahead of plan.

If that scenario was to play-out today, I wouldn’t see a cent of the money available to new mums under the Government’s Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme, simply because I was doing what was necessary to keep my small business ticking-over.

Currently, self-employed mothers can only access the PPL scheme provided they’re not working from the moment the baby’s born.  And on top of that, it must be taken in one continuous block of up to 18 weeks.

So basically you need to be prepared enough to take an almost clean break from your business as soon as your baby arrives. 

Having often built it from the ground-up, many women in small business think of their enterprise as their other ‘baby’, so the idea that they can just up and leave is unrealistic and impractical; there are always issues to deal with. 

Admittedly there are a select few ‘occasional tasks’ under the Government’s PPL scheme, that new self-employed mothers are permitted without endangering their entitlements, but the difference  between ‘keeping an eye’ on your business (allowed) and ‘actively running’ your business (not allowed) is subjective at best, and at worst, vastly different for everyone!

So given these restrictions, you could reasonably conclude the Government’s PPL scheme discriminates against self-employed women.  Seriously, show me any business owner that can have 18 weeks solid off, and return to find the business the way they left it; it’s just not possible.

So what’s the answer?  In a word: flexibility. 

There needs to be greater understanding of the fact that more and more women are now running their own business, and those self-employed women need to be able to organise their business in a way that works for them.  This may mean having the freedom to be away from work at a time of their choosing, or being able to break up their parental leave to take it in different stages, thus ensuring both their newborn baby, and their small business ‘baby’, can grow and thrive.