Sunday, February 17, 2008

We need parental leave not just maternity leave

Its great that the Rudd government (new Australian Prime Minister) has taken steps to promote paid maternity leave, however as their terms of reference state (see list below) they are trying to provide "support for parents", which would include both mothers and fathers.

Thus any program that would only see mothers provided with financial compensation is a direct case of discrimination. We need to lobby this government and let them know that this is not acceptable and in order to achieve true gender equality it is vital that fathers are supported in their role to an equal extent that this is provided to mothers.

What follows is the press release from the government outlining the aims of the commission and its terms of reference (with my comments in italics)

Productivity Commission to Investigate Paid Maternity Leave

Delivering on its election commitment, the Rudd Labor Government will ask the Productivity Commission to examine ways the Government can provide improved support to parents with newborn children. Any policy reforms in this area will be aimed at ensuring strong and sustainable economic growth, take into account our ageing population and the importance of early childhood development, and support Australian families balance work and family responsibilities.

We want to explore ways to make it as easy as possible for working mums (surely this is a typo they must have meant parents ........didnt they........GRKLEIN) to balance their employment with the important job of raising a new generation of Australians. The Productivity Commission is uniquely placed to advise the Government on the best way to balance economic considerations with the aspirations of working families.

The Productivity Commission will be asked to look at the economic and social costs and benefits of paid maternity, paternity and parental leave.
(There is plenty of research that proves the importance of both parents, and based on basic equity theory we should do away with the outdated terms of maternity and paternity leave and move to adopt the term parental leave to ensure that boths parents have access to such support - GRKLEIN) The Commission will conduct a thorough examination and provide an opportunity for public participation. The Commission will be asked to report by February 2009.

Public hearings will be held and submissions from the public will also be sought, with a report produced for the Government to release publicly.

To register an interest in the inquiry or to find out more, details will soon be available from the Commission at or phone 02 6240 3239.

Matt Martyn-Jones (Mr Swan) - 0419 418 394

Kimberley Gardiner (Ms Gillard) - 0434 159 842

Meg Dixon-Child (Ms Macklin) - 0400 116 032

Terms of Reference for a Productivity Commission Inquiry
Improved Support for Parents with New Born Children

The Australian Government wants to consider how to improve support for parents with new born children. The context for this is the need to ensure strong and sustainable economic growth, adjust to the imperatives of an ageing population, promote the early development of children and support families in balancing work and family responsibilities.

In undertaking the inquiry the Commission is to:

1. Identify the economic, productivity and social costs and benefits of providing paid maternity, paternity and parental leave.

2. Explore the extent of current employer provision of paid maternity, paternity and parental leave in Australia.

3. Identify paid maternity, paternity and parental leave models that could be used in the Australian context.

4. Assess those models for their potential impact on:
* the financial and regulatory cost and benefits on small and medium sized business;
* the employment of women, women's workforce participation (men now comprise 66% of all people receiving unemployment allowance in Australia, so perhaps this should be revised to include men - GR KLEIN ) and earnings and the workforce participation of both parents more generally;
* work/family preferences of both parents in the first two years after the child's birth;
* the post-birth health of the mother; (Here we go again what about the father......? GRK)
* the development of young children, including the particular development needs of newborns in their first 2 years; and
* relieving the financial pressures on families;

5. Assess the cost effectiveness of these models.

6. Assess the interaction of these models with the Social Security and Family Assistance Systems.

7. Assess the impacts and applicability of these models across the full range of employment forms (e.g. including for the self-employed, farmers, shift workers, etc).

8. Assess the efficiency and effectiveness of Government policies that would facilitate the provision and take-up of these models.

The Commission is to report by February 2009. The Commission is to hold public hearings and seek public submissions for the purpose of the inquiry and is to produce a report for public release by government.

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