All Australian women would benefit from a national paid maternity leave scheme which allows for a minimum of 14 weeks leave at full pay as proposed by the ACTU in its submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry into paid parental leave.
The fully costed model released today by ACTU President Sharan Burrow would benefit families and save businesses tens of thousands of dollars every year in staff replacement and re-training costs.
The majority of working mothers (51 per cent) earn an average of $29,187pa and would be approximately $563.40 per week better off under the ACTU’s model.
In total this scheme would cost the Australian government $518 million.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said: “Two thirds of Australian women have no access to paid maternity leave and this is having serious repercussions.
“Many women drop out of the workforce altogether which holds back our economy with a loss of skills and personnel, while many other women are forced back to work too early because of financial pressures at home or fear of losing their job.
“Neither outcome is productive, healthy or acceptable in a modern, sophisticated country like Australia. The ACTU’s paid maternity leave scheme provides a realistic and immediately affordable solution for government and employers.
“We hope by this time next year Australia women and their babies will finally have the security they need to balance work and family life – it is long overdue”, said Ms Burrow.
The ACTU’s scheme would include:
·         14 weeks paid leave funded by the federal government at federal minimum wage levels plus 9 per cent superannuation
·         A requirement by employers to top up the 14 weeks payment to the woman’s normal wage level
·         14 weeks to be added to any pre-existing paid maternity leave entitlement
·         Available to all women, replaces the baby bonus