The ACTU has outlined the immediate economic and social need to include an 18 week paid maternity leave scheme in the 2009 Federal Budget, in its latest submission to the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Parental Leave.
“At a time of global financial uncertainty, it is more important than ever to invest in the future strength of the Australian labour market,” says ACTU President Sharan Burrow.
“Paid maternity leave is an important and overdue reform. It will provide a solid foundation for economic growth by ensuring women have a secure connection to the workforce while being able to take sufficient time out when they have a baby.
“It will also provide immediate relief to families, 60% of which rely on two incomes to pay bills, mortgages or rent,” says Ms Burrow.
“Paid maternity leave means women can be with their babies without financial stress or worrying about losing their job. It also means they can return to work in good physical and mental health.”
The introduction of a paid parental leave scheme will:
support and boost female workforce participation
strengthen the job market by retaining skilled, educated and experienced employees
reduce employers’ re-hiring and training costs
provide much needed income support to families in uncertain economic times
The estimated cost to government would be just $452 million or 2% more than its current expenditure on family assistance.
Currently, Australia and the United States are the only OECD countries without a national system for paid maternity leave.
The ACTU will formally present its submission this Friday at a Productivity Commission Inquiry hearing in Melbourne.