The introduction of the Australian Paid Parental Leave scheme in 2011 provides a rare opportunity to estimate the impacts of publicly funded paid leave on mothers in the first year postpartum. The almost universal coverage of the scheme, coupled with detailed survey data collected specifically for the scheme’s evaluation, means that eligibility for paid leave under the scheme can be plausibly taken as exogenous, following a standard propensity score-matching exercise. Consistent with much of the existing literature, the study finds a positive impact on mothers’ taking leave in the first half year and on mothers’ probability of returning to work in the first year. The paper provides new evidence of a positive impact on continuing in the same job under the same conditions, where previous conclusions have been mixed. Further, it shows that disadvantaged mothers – low income, less educated, without access to employer-funded leave – respond most.