Wednesday, October 1, 2008

everyone's talking about... paid maternity leave


Wasn't sure what to illustrate this one with, so went with a recent one of my babies!

I'm a bit late on this one, but it's because I'm a bit confused as to what I feel about it as I can see both sides of the complainers: it's not enough and it's too much. I really am thrilled it's on the table, because of course it's needed! But aren't we already receiving some sort of maternity leave pay? The $5000 baby bonus spreads out to a little under 10 weeks of minimum wage - which is what mother's will be getting under the paid parental leave scheme. And if you play it smart and save up your holidays as soon as you find out you're pregnant, that could be several weeks pay - plus leave loading - on top of the baby bonus, which, by the way, is tax free. Also on the "it's too much side" is poor old small busineses. I don't have a small business, but my parents do - a childcare centre. When various parental leave models were being thrown around recently, I could imagine their horror at the thought of having to pay their staff maternity leave on top of the holiday pay they'd probably want (as I mentioned above) as well as replacement staffers they'd have to employ. Under the latest proposed scheme, they're spared the paternity payment, but still have to contribute to superannuation. Which means - guess what! - childcare fees are going to have to go up yet again to cover this extra cost. And this is just one industry. Many other small businesses are not going to be able to afford this - especially as they'll be required to pay the maternity leave upfront, and then be reimbursed by the goverment.

On the "it's not enough" side... as my father would say: if you're going to do something, do it properly. Why can't the goverment just fork out an employee's wage and super at their regular rate for a certain amount of weeks? Is it REALLY going to dent the ecomony that much? It's estimated the proposed scheme will cost the government around $540 million annually. Yes, that's a whole heap of money. And yes it'd cost even more if they paid employee's full wages. But it seems nothing when you consider our country returned a budget surplus of $27.1 billion this last financial year.

And for those saying we shouldn't have a paid maternity leave scheme because "we didn't have it back in our day", that may be true, but there must have been a time when retirees weren't paid a pension. And birthing mums didn't have access to drugs. And women couldn't vote. It's called progress! And I'm sure it they'd never have knocked it back.


So there are some conflicting thoughts there... What do you think about it all? Too much? Too little? Just right? It's quite the controversial subject online I've noticed. The thing is, there is no chance of pleasing everyone: regardless of how much or little is offered, there will be people who plod along happily, and there will be people who struggle. Just as they do now.

1 comment:

Anette said...

Interesting.

In Norway we can choose between one year maternity leave with 80% salary or 10 months with 100% salary.

My baby is 8 months old now, and I'll start working again on the first of March,. Then my husband gets his six weeks paid leave. I think my baby is to young to start kindergarten when he is less than a year old.

The government pay the leave, not the small businesses. We pay a lot more taxes in Norway, but we have a great welfare system.

I can't imagine only staying home for ten weeks. Poor baby, and poor mum.