By Aimee Chanthadavong

The Australian Retailers Association has announced it support for the Coalitions’ announcement that it will seek to remove the burden small businesses face in acting as paymasters of the government’s Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme. 

Speaking to RetailBiz, ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said while retailers support the parental leave scheme, its financial burden for them to act as paymasters for the scheme.

“Businesses are expected to act as paymasters of the paid parental leave scheme, which means small businesses and retailers are also expected to act as paymasters. It’s unaffordable for retailers, especially smaller retailers who often have to change their payroll systems in order to incorporate the payments,” he said.

“Parents taking time off to care for children is a good thing for society but businesses shouldn't have to pay – and while retailers will welcome the Productivity Commission's decision for parental leave to be tax-payer funded – questions about financial burden associated with compulsory administration still remain.”

As part of the ARA’s submission to the Productivity Commission last year, it indicated retailers would support a six-week taxpayer-funded scheme. However, the PC’s draft report proposed paid parental leave of 18 weeks failed to address the rebates to small business operators for its administration on behalf of the Government.

“This could be crippling for SME retailers,” Zimmerman said.

According to Zimmerman, it’s clear that retailers are already struggling with poor trading conditions and having the extra burden of paying PPL is not helping.

“Retailers face some of the highest costs in the world when it comes to doing business and costs associated with regulatory burden form one of those elements. Other costs and regulatory obligations also need to be addressed, and will be addressed this year through the Retail Council of Australia, of which the ARA is a founding member, as well as working with government in order to review IR laws and bring them in line with the modern trading environment,” he said.