A VICTORIAN council has announced landmark parental leave initiatives that came into effect this week to close the gender gap in workplaces.

The Bass Coast Shire Council is immediately removing the difference between primary and secondary carers.

This means mothers, fathers and same sex partners are now entitled to the same paid leave.

“These actions are bold and designed to address gender-based inequalities,’’ said Bass Coast Shire Council Chief Executive Ali Wastie.

“Increasing the length of time for paid parental leave and making it equal for parents has added advantages for the family. New mums, dads and same sex partners will have more time to bond with their babies and support each other in parenting,” Ms Wastie said.

The council has also set a new industry standard for its 400 employees by increasing paid parental leave from 14 weeks to 16 weeks for both parents.

Superannuation contributions will also now be made for everyone on unpaid parental leave for a full year.

Council support officer Kelly Male who is almost eight months pregnant welcomed the changes.

“These changes will help our family and other families so much. The additional two weeks’ paid leave will help us significantly and the guaranteed superannuation payment for 12 months takes away the worry of missing out while caring for my family,’’ Ms Male said.

Victoria’s Public Sector Gender Equality Commissioner Dr Niki Vincent welcomed the changes.

“It’s great to see a public sector agency leading the way by removing the definition of ‘primary and secondary carer’ and in so doing, removing assumptions around rigid gender roles for parents and carers,’’ Dr Vincent said.