The ACTU welcomes today’s announcement by major retailer Woolworth’s to offer its female employees access to eight weeks paid maternity leave on the birth of a child.
This is another welcome sign that Australian businesses recognise that paid maternity leave is not only good for families it is good for their business.
Woolworth’s joins the ranks of several other employers who this year started offering their women workers paid maternity leave, including Myer, (6wks leave after 18mths service) Aldi (14 wks on half pay after 12 mths service) and Dominos Pizza chain head office staff (8wks after 18mths service).
ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:
“It is commendable that Woolworths has taken this step.
“It shows that the company values its women workers and wants to hold onto them.
“Especially in the current climate of low unemployment, employers know it is much better to allow their staff to have time off after the birth of a child and then get the benefit of their experience when they decide to return to work.
“Paid maternity leave cuts recruitment costs for business and increases their employees’ commitment to the company.
“It is now essential that the Government introduce a national scheme of paid maternity leave.
“The ACTU is proposing that all mothers receive 14 weeks leave at full pay.
“This would be funded by the Federal Government providing a payment at the Federal Minimum Wage plus 9 per cent superannuation and with a requirement for employers to top up the payment to the woman’s normal wage level.
“Women out of the workforce would also benefit from the ACTU proposal — getting around $2,000 more than the current Baby Bonus.
“Universal paid maternity leave will have across-the-board benefits not just for individual families but for our economy.

“The fact is there is a massive gap between the haves and have-nots in this area with so few (24%) women in retail and hospitality getting paid maternity leave, while most (75%) women in high income professional occupations getting some form of paid maternity leave,” said Ms Burrow.

Further information on the ACTU’s Paid Maternity Leave submission see attachment below.