29 September 2008

Paid maternity leave

Today, a landmark government report will recommend that Australian mothers receive up to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave.

Currently, only 43% of Australian women are entitled to paid maternity leave. One in six mums is back to work before their babies turn one month old.

According to the proposed plan, women would be paid the equivalent of minimum wage at the cost of $500 million to the government. This is quite controversial and a number of critics are suggesting that the expenditure is too great especially in the face of a 'global financial crisis'. Others have suggested that the scheme has to be means tested. Some groups are worried that if the scheme is passed, women of 'childbearing age' (read: early 30s) will be discriminated against in the workplace.

Let's just remind ourselves of one fact: Australia is one of the only two developed nations in the world (the other being the US) that does not have a scheme for paid maternity leave. British mums get 39 weeks. Swedish mums get 18 months. Bulgarian mums get 2 years.

Sources: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24415549-12377,00.html


Cherryskin said...

In Poland when I was born, mothers got three years of full pay.

It has to do with how much mothering (and parenting in general) is respected. And if it isn't respected, then our kids are in big trouble (as are we, ultimately).

I have so much to say about this topic, but my girls are calling! :-)

Amanda said...

This would be *great* if it happens. My partner and I have been considering when to start a family, and sad as it is, finances have to be a huge consideration in the decision-making process. I'm sure there are a lot of people out there waiting longer than they want to before having a child simply because of financial concerns.

Paid maternity leave at minimum wage seems like a much less flawed plan than the baby bonus scheme. I don't agree that it should be means tested though - as long as you have been working prior to giving birth, I think any new mother should be entitled to it. We all pay our taxes, after all.

Anonymous said...

Canadian moms (in Ontario) get 50 weeks :D

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