The ACTU is calling on the Federal Government to fully implement the paid maternity leave plan proposed by Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward today.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow welcomed Ms Goward’s recommendations, saying the proposed 14 weeks of government-funded maternity leave would protect child and maternal health and reduce the career disadvantage experienced by many women.

Ms Burrow said the plan would significantly reduce the cost to employers of providing paid maternity leave and deserved the support of all employer groups.

“The minority of employers still uncertain about paid maternity leave should consider the benefits of Ms Goward’s proposals. All employer groups should get with the times and encourage the Government to introduce paid maternity leave without delay.”

Unions estimated that up to half of working women – including those on the lowest incomes – would receive full income replacement under Ms Goward’s proposal.

“Ms Goward’s recommendations provide a good minimum base for building more family friendly workplaces appropriate for 21st century Australia,” Ms Burrow said.

“Ms Goward deserves to be congratulated for balancing many competing options and developing an effective compromise. The plan is affordable and would meet essential minimum health and welfare standards that are recognised internationally.

“John Howard has an opportunity to bring Australia into line with the rest of the world by implementing paid maternity leave as part of the next Federal Budget,” Ms Burrow said.