Monday, 18 February 2008

Terms of reference into paid maternity leave and parental leave welcomed

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has today welcomed the federal government’s release of the terms of reference for a Productivity Commission inquiry into the introduction of a paid maternity, paternity and parental leave scheme.

The terms of reference anticipate a report that will be prepared for public release by the government by February 2009.

"I am pleased that the terms are sufficiently wide to include all forms of paid leave necessary to accommodate the work family preferences of parents," Commissioner Broderick said.

"It is important to recognise that it is women who give birth, so it is pleasing to see that the Inquiry will also assess the impact of any scheme on the post-birth health of the mother.

"Workforce attachment is critical for women and increasingly men who wish to be more intimately involved in their child’s early life," she said.

"On my national ‘Listening Tour’ that is currently underway, I have heard from many parents who wish to share the care of their children.

"Assessing the need for paid paternity leave in addition to paid maternity leave will encourage shared care."

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) recommends as a minimum a government-funded 14 week paid maternity leave scheme paid with two weeks paid paternity leave, at the level of the federal minimum wage.

"It is important that small and medium sized business not be adversely impacted by the cost or administrative burden of any scheme. Any proposal must not act as a disincentive to the employment of women," Commissioner Broderick said.

"This inquiry provides Australia with an opportunity not only to play catch up, but to put in place a well considered, well modelled system of paid leave for women and men which will deliver both sustainable economic growth and social wellbeing."

Media contact: Louise McDermott on (02) 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597