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Government Funded Maternity Leave on the Back Burner

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The Federal Government remains “committed” to paid maternity leave but will not confirm funding for the scheme in the 2009/2010 Budget.

The Productivity Commission handed down a report on 28 February 2009 recommending that the Federal Government fund payments of $540 a week for 18 weeks to working women after their child was born. Fathers would be eligible for two weeks leave at the same rate. T

he scheme would cost $450 million and businesses would be required to spend $74 million on superannuation contributions to women on maternity leave.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick told an Australian Council of Trade Unions breakfast forum that the global financial crisis should not be used as an excuse to postpone the introduction of paid maternity leave.

Ms Broderick and the ACTU say the immediate introduction of paid maternity leave would help stimulate the economy and boost workforce participation. Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said last November that paid maternity leave had been “kicked off” the Government’s agenda by the global financial crisis.

Workplace Relations Minister Julia Gillard reiterated the government’s commitment to a scheme but said, “We’ve always said that any financial matters flowing from that report would need to be considered in the Budget context.”

Author: Richard Scougall