Thursday, April 10, 2008

Maternity leave vs Parental leave

By GR Klein

The Australian Productivity Commision is currently engaged in an inquiry to review Australia’s provision of support to new parents. However, the term 'parent' is soon relinquished and in its place the authors instead begin referring to "women and mothers".

I have made a submission to this inquiry to highlight the discriminatory language that is used. Australia and the USA are the only two OECD nations that have no comprehensive program to support parents while they care for their newborn children.

So to remedy this situation (which clearly shows how backward we are in this country) the government in all their wisdom trots out a document straight from 1955 that clearly casts women as the carers and men as the breadwinners.

The best international models (ie in Scandanavia) use the term parental leave to avoid the traditional stereotypes that would restrict people to certain roles based on gender.

Feminists have fought for decades to get women into the workforce however the new legislation that the Australian government is considering to bring in (comprehensive maternity leave) will potentially expose women to renewed discrimination.

As an employer if I have a choice between two candidates for a new position and one is female and other is male, some employers may decide that to save money they will employ the male because they will not have to pay them maternity leave.

The solution to this problem use the term parental leave and ensure that any legislation is clear that it applies equally to both men and women, so that all employers know regardless of gender all people will have a right to access the same levels of parental support when their children are born.

Unfortunatley companies like Dominos Pizza Australia (Click here to tell em what you think) continue to live in the past as they announce with great exuberance their comprehensive materntiy leave program that clearly disadvantages and discriminates against men, and places women at the mercy of unscrupulous employers.

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