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Australia is one of only two developed countries without paid maternity leave. The Rudd Government says that they will change this status and will legislate some form of compulsory paid parental leave. We received our first inkling as to what this might look when the Productivity Commission released its draft report on Monday.
The Productivity Commission is the Australian Government’s independent research and advisory body on a range of economic, social and environmental issues affecting the welfare of Australians. Its role, expressed simply, is to help governments make better policies in the long term interest of the Australian community. (Source: Productivity Commission Website.)
The Productivity Commission’s draft report recommends 18 weeks’ government-funded leave in addition to any existing employer-funded scheme. Employers would be expected to contribute a further $75 million a year in superannuation payments. You can read the complete draft report here and they will receive written submissions on the report until COB Friday 14 November 2008.
The release of the report has started a public debate in Australia on paid maternity leave. The ABC reports that the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI):
“does not support the Productivity Commission’s recommendation of 20 weeks’ paid parental leave, claiming it would put excessive burdens on businesses.”
The Age noted that:
“Unions NSW and the Australian Greens are urging Labor to pay 26 weeks’ leave, saying that is the minimum needed to allow adequate support for parents and their babies.”
And I have to say that I agree with the latter. A submission by the National Investment for the Early Years articulates the many reasons why 18 weeks is not long enough and takes into consideration the economic rationale as to why longer paid leave is also beneficial in economic terms as well.
GetUp is running a campaign to support the call for paid leave to be for a minimum of 6 months. If you feel strongly about this too, please sign their petition and help them achieve their goal to attain 30,000 signatures to send to the Federal Government, to show that the community supports at least 6 months paid maternity leave.