All new parents working in the NSW public sector will have the potential to access up to 14 weeks paid parental leave, following a decade-long campaign by the Public Service Association.

From 1 July 2021, NSW public sector employees who are primary carers will be able to access 14 weeks paid parental leave in the first year of their baby’s life. Previously public sector employees were entitled to up to 14 weeks paid parental leave if the maternal parent, or up to 1 week paid leave if the “other” parent.

“This is a huge win for the parents of NSW, and for gender equity,” said Stewart Little, general secretary of the PSA NSW, which first began campaigning for equal parental leave in 2011.

“This gives families more choice about how they’ll care for their new child. But it also means women will be able to more readily return to work once they’re ready, knowing that the other parent also has access to paid parental leave.”

The Public Sector Industrial Relations advised the union last week that it would expand the NSW public sector parental leave entitlement to two categories to include the birth or primary parent at the time of birth, adoption or surrogacy, and the “other parent” who has primary responsibly for the care of the child not at the time of the birth, adoption of surrogacy.

The other parent category can access two weeks paid leave at the time of birth, and an additional 12 weeks paid leave, which can be taken at 24 weeks half pay, in the first 12 months of the baby’s life.

“Both parents should be able to take time to bond with their new child, to learn how to care for them, and to share the load. Neither parent should be in a position where they have to make a choice between their career or their child. Universal paid parental leave makes NSW public sector workplaces fairer, and paves the way for the private sector to follow.

“We know the longer women spend away from the professional workforce the harder it becomes to return. As a result we see a widening gender pay gap, and women’s superannuation balances suffer.

“There is no silver bullet to addressing gender inequality in our workplaces. But universal parental leave paves the way for significant cultural shift.”