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A Time to Value - Part C

A Time to Value - Proposal for a National Paid Maternity Leave Scheme

Part C: The Benefits

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4. OVERVIEW

5.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING OF MOTHERS, BABIES AND THEIR FAMILIES

6.
ECONOMIC SECURITY

7.
ADDRESSING WORKPLACE DISADVANTAGE

8.
EQUALITY

9.
SOCIAL BENEFITS

10.
BENEFITS TO EMPLOYERS AND THE ECONOMY

11.
OUTSTANDING ISSUES


4.
Overview

The interim paper, Valuing Parenthood: Options for paid
maternity leave
set out an extensive range of objectives that
paid maternity leave could meet. [242] Many of these
objectives were dependent on the structure of the scheme that was implemented.

As part of the
consultation process for this paper, HREOC asked the community which
objectives they considered were most important in an Australian context,
and the extent to which they considered that paid maternity leave could
deliver these objectives. This Part of the paper sets out the views
presented in consultations and submissions in response to these questions,
and states HREOC's conclusions.

HREOC considers
that the introduction of a national scheme of paid maternity leave in
Australia should be a priority. As set out in Part B, families are coming
under increasing time and financial pressure. Now, more than ever before,
families and parents need support to combine work and child rearing.
A national paid maternity leave scheme is an essential part of such
support.

HREOC considers
that paid maternity leave is a basic entitlement that women in paid
work should be able to access. HREOC is of the view that the principal
reasons that paid maternity leave should be a basic entitlement are
the significant benefits it has in terms of:

  • ensuring the
    health and wellbeing of mothers and babies immediately prior to and
    following birth;
  • addressing the
    workplace disadvantage that women experience as a result of maternity;
    and
  • contributing
    to ensuring that women are able to participate on equal terms with
    men in all aspects of the community.

These are the reasons
that paid maternity leave has been enshrined in international conventions,
namely CEDAW and the International Labour Organization's Maternity
Protection Convention 2000
(Maternity Protection Convention).

In addition to
these primary reasons, there is also a broad range of additional benefits
that will flow from the introduction of paid maternity leave. They include:

  • enhancing the
    wellbeing of fathers;
  • assisting families
    with the costs of children;
  • assisting women
    to maintain their labour force attachment;
  • assisting women
    to increase their lifetime earnings and retirement incomes;
  • helping women
    to be able to better combine work and family;
  • providing social
    recognition of the role of motherhood;
  • valuing children;
  • assisting to
    change expectations of work and family responsibilities in workplaces;
  • assisting employers
    with staff retention and reducing staff turnover costs;
  • assisting to
    maintain a competitive and skilled labour force; and
  • contributing
    towards maintaining and improving Australia's fertility rate.

Clearly, paid maternity
leave cannot achieve such a range of outcomes on its own. However, these
were the issues that the community considered needed to be addressed.
Submissions and consultations emphasised that paid maternity leave could
make a significant contribution to achieving many of these outcomes.
It was considered that, for some objectives, particularly that of promoting
the health and wellbeing of mothers and their children, the introduction
of a national scheme of paid maternity leave would deliver significant
benefits in its own right.

The final Chapter
in this Part sets out the range of outstanding issues which the community
considered should be addressed in addition to paid maternity leave to
help families better combine raising children with paid work

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5.
Health and wellbeing of mothers, babies and their families

5.1
Introduction

The health and
wellbeing of new mothers and babies is the most fundamental argument
for paid maternity leave. While income support measures may be designed
to achieve a variety of outcomes, the need to ensure that women can
afford to spend the first weeks of a child's life recovering from the
birth and nurturing the baby requires a measure designed to provide
this. The 14 weeks leave recommended by the International Labour Organization
and the 16 weeks leave recommended by the World Health Organization
are premised on this argument. [243]

The need to safeguard
health squarely supports the provision of paid maternity leave to mothers
only, rather than paid parental leave which is available to either parent.
However, this Chapter also examines the importance of paid maternity
leave to all family members, most particularly infants but also fathers.

This Chapter discusses:

  • the physical
    and mental health benefits of a period of paid leave for women;
  • the benefits,
    both in terms of health and economics, of breastfeeding for mother
    and child;
  • the health and
    wellbeing effects for infants of paid maternity leave; and
  • the positive
    impact a period of paid leave has on family relationships during a
    period of intense lifestyle change.

Health and wellbeing
was an aspect of the paid maternity leave debate that received less
discussion in HREOC's interim paper Valuing
Parenthood: Options for paid maternity leave
. Consequently,
this Chapter not only provides a discussion of issues raised in submissions
and consultations, it also canvasses the substantial literature on this
topic. During the consultation process, HREOC wrote to academic and
medical experts in this field seeking information specifically on the
health implications of maternity leave. This Chapter reports on information
provided during that correspondence.

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5.2
Health and wellbeing of mothers

5.2.1
Introduction

There are a number
of related reasons why women need a specific period out of the workforce
free from financial concerns following the birth of a child. Submissions
canvassed many of these issues.

Paid maternity
leave would provide appropriate support for women and families with
new babies. The time before and after childbirth is critical for the
physical and psychological wellbeing of the mother and child. Paid
maternity leave would help to alleviate extra stresses that would
result from the loss of income from the mother stopping work. It would
also ensure that mothers had time to recover rather than being forced
back into the workforce prematurely. [244]

[Paid maternity
leave means that w]omen can take time off without financial worry
- ensuring that the first months of a baby's life is stress-free (in
the context that the mother has one less thing to worry about) and
that women can relax into being a mum rather than worrying how the
bills will be paid. [245]

In addition, individual
mothers told HREOC about the physical and emotional impact of financial
stress following childbirth.

The stress of
not knowing how one is going to make ends meet even for a few weeks
after birth is horrific and I've lived it twice. To just be able to
have those first few weeks paid would at least give us something whilst
we bond with our babies. [246]

It was horrible
[returning to work with a seven week old baby]. It was something that
I knew I had to do so I was aware of it and I just tried my best.
I didn't cut hours. I went back to my contracted hours which then
was 54 hours per fortnight. I think I should have cut my hours but
financially I just wasn't able to because every last dollar of my
pay is relied on. [247]

This section outlines
some of these issues.

5.2.2
Physical health

It is generally
agreed that the physical and emotional demands of childbirth require
a period of recovery and adaptation. A number of studies examining the
health status of women after childbirth have found that many women experience
a range of health problems over a number of months following delivery.
These health problems are often simply the common effects of pregnancy,
childbirth and lactation, but they indicate, at the very least, a need
for rest and recovery. A population based survey of Victorian women
conducted in 1993-1994 found that 94 per cent or 1,254 of the 1,336
women surveyed experienced one or more health problem over the first
six months following childbirth. The most common health problems experienced
over this six month period were tiredness (69 per cent) and backache
(43.5 per cent). [248]

This prevalence
of health problems in new mothers up to six months post delivery is
confirmed by a more recent population based study conducted in the Australian
Capital Territory in 1997. [249] Exhaustion or extreme
tiredness was experienced by 60 per cent of the 1 193 women who completed
the survey eight weeks after delivery. This percentage reduced to 49
per cent of women 24 weeks after delivery. Backache was experienced
by 53 per cent of new mothers eight weeks after birth, reducing to 45
per cent of new mothers 24 weeks after birth. [250] The authors contended that while declining in prevalence, these health
problems are still common after six months, perhaps reflecting the exigencies
of parenting as well as the physical impact of pregnancy and childbirth
itself. [251] Other health problems that were showing
resolution between eight weeks and 24 weeks after birth included bowel
problems, lack of sleep due to the baby crying, hemorrhoids, perineal
pain, excessive or prolonged bleeding, urinary incontinence, mastitis,
and other urinary problems. Only six per cent of new mothers reported
an absence of health problems in the first eight weeks, 17 per cent
in the second eight weeks, and 19 per cent between 17 and 24 weeks postpartum. [252]

A US study of 654
women who gave birth between October 1991 and February 1992 found that
at seven months post delivery potentially infectious symptoms such as
colds and flu were experienced by many: 25 per cent had one symptom;
18 per cent had two symptoms; and 37 per cent of women had three or
more symptoms. Non infectious symptoms of ill health, such as stiff
joints, neck or back pain were also experienced by many of the women
interviewed. [253] Another US study which interviewed
96 women found that 63 per cent had recovered physically, mentally and
emotionally six months after childbirth. However, 25 per cent of the
women reported that they still had not recovered physically, 12 per
cent stated that their mental recovery was incomplete, and 17 per cent
considered that their emotional recovery was not yet complete. A further
seven per cent of the women reported that they had not fully recovered
in any of the three areas. [254]

Many of these health
problems on their own would not prevent a woman from returning to work,
but most would require a period of adjustment or rest, if not full recovery.
Providing a period of paid leave for new mothers:

… means
that the financial strain after childbirth does not force women back
into the workforce prematurely, a situation which causes unnecessary
stress and anxiety for both mother and child. [255]

It is well documented,
the effects on the body, despite [childbirth] being 'natural'. [Fourteen
weeks] is barely enough to physically recover. It just covers the
transition period. You need to keep [new mothers] out of physical
labour in order for them to get better. [256]

5.2.3
Physical effects of early return to work

Providing women
with an income while they are absent from the workforce due to childbirth
would allow many women, who now return to work shortly after delivery
because of financial constraints, [257] adequate
time to physically recover. Evidence of an early return to work necessitated
by economic circumstances was provided by a number of submissions.

With the birth
of Ethan this June, I had a caesarean again and it is very different.
We live upstairs so physically it's hard. I haven't had time to relax,
and take it easy. Coping on your own as a couple with a new baby,
getting to know the baby, then the financial pressures, and then going
back to work [two weeks after the birth] - it is very hard. I'm tired,
irritable. And I can't see my baby! I wanted to bring him in and keep
him under my desk! I can't get myself organised and into a routine. [258]

The length of time
required for complete maternal recovery varies with the individual woman
and her child. However, the traditionally held view of a six week maternal
recovery time has been called into question as too short.

The classic postnatal
period or puerperium is the first 6 weeks after delivery however it
is well known that several body systems notably the urinary tract
do not recover their full non pregnant status until 3 months post
delivery. This coupled with the need to successfully establish and
maintain breast feeding … with all its attendant benefits for
neonatal health of the child and quicker restitution of the maternal
birth canal and uterine involution (i.e. return to a normal non pregnant
size) would advocate at least a 14 week period of postnatal leave
prior to the return to the work force. [259]

The findings of
a number of studies undertaken in the US support the need for an extended
period of postpartum recovery beyond the traditional six weeks. One
study concluded that:

… the conventional
view of a six week postpartum recovery may not fit all women, particularly
employed women who lack the flexibility to adapt their job demands
or schedules to accommodate needs for rest and recuperation throughout
the postpartum year. [260]

That study also
found that the duration of maternity leave, measured as the time off
work, has a complex and significant effect on maternal health. The effect
of time off work was U-shaped, with initially less time off work associated
with better health, [261] but this relationship reversed
itself at later stages of the postpartum period, revealing more time
off work to be associated with better health outcomes. Generic measures
of health were used, these being mental health, vitality and role function.
The positive effect of time off work on maternal health was observed
to begin at 12 weeks postpartum for vitality (based on an assessment
of energy and lack of fatigue), at 15 weeks postpartum for mental health
(based on an assessment of depression and anxiety), and at 20 weeks
postpartum for role function (based on an assessment of the combined
effect of physical and emotional health problems, or fatigue on an individual's
daily activities). [262]

5.2.4
Fatigue

Fatigue is a major
health concern for many new mothers. This was borne out during the consultations.

You are chronically
fatigued after the birth of a child. [263]

Even if you don't
breastfeed you are still tired. [264]

The bearing of
children is work, hard work, involving loss of sleep, immense fatigue,
the necessity to maintain an equilibrium, continue the family support
role and cope with whatever occurs. [265]

An Australian study
into the functional status of women after childbirth found that fatigue
is a common concern during the first six months postpartum. [266] In reviewing the literature, the author states that the percentage of
women negatively affected by fatigue varies from 26 per cent to 96 per
cent depending on the survey period and the temperament of the baby. [267] Another study found that a lack of physical
energy and repeated baby night time wakenings were linked with lower
levels of functional status during the first six months after birth. [268] This study and others on functional status
after childbirth are discussed below at 5.2.5.

Sleep deprivation
is also experienced by the parents of adopted children. Most, if not
all, adopted children suffer from sleeping problems, either as a result
of the trauma they have suffered in institutions or as a result of the
adoption process. Sometimes these problems can be quite severe. Most
adopted children suffer from sleeping problems which deprive adoptive
parents of normal sleeping patterns, at least for the first few months
as the adopted child adapts to his or her new family environment. [269]

5.2.5
Functionality

An Australian study
defined functional status after childbirth as the:

… assumption
of the desired or required infant care responsibilities, and the resumption
of self-care, household, social/community, and occupational activities
at the pre-delivery level. [270]

This study surveyed
132 women at six weeks postpartum of whom 66 (50 per cent) were employed
outside the home prior to giving birth. Sixty per cent of the 66 women
received unpaid maternity leave, 53 per cent of the 66 saw themselves
as professional women, and 75 per cent of the 66 intended to return
to work. [271]

Significantly,
none of the respondents had achieved full functional status by six weeks
postpartum. For household activities only 17 per cent (23 of the 132)
stated that they had resumed their activities around the home; for social/community
activities only eight per cent (10 of the 132) reported that they had
fully resumed such activity; and for self care, none of the women had
fully resumed the levels of pre-birth activity. For baby care 47 per
cent (62 of the 132) had fully engaged in their desired level of baby
care and for those mothers who had resumed employment (17 of the 132),
only 18 per cent (three of the 17) felt that they were functioning at
as high a level as they had prior to having their baby. [272]

5.2.6
Method of birth

In 1999, caesarean
sections accounted for 21.9 per cent of all confinements in Australia. [273] Caesarean rates were generally higher as maternal
age increased. Women aged less than 20 years had a caesarean rate of
12.3 per cent while mothers aged 40 years and over had a caesarean rate
of 37.6 per cent. [274] There is also a higher correlation
of caesarean births with private health insurance status. For example,
mothers aged 35 to 39 years who had private health insurance status
in hospital and who were having their first baby had a caesarean rate
of 44.3 per cent compared with 34.0 per cent for those who had public
health insurance status. [275] The caesarean rate
continues to show an overall upwards trend in recent decades. [276]

The median maternal
age in Australia has increased gradually from 27.9 years in 1991 [277] to 30 years in 2001. [278] The combination of delayed
pregnancy and increased private health insurance coverage suggests that
the upwards trend in the rate of caesarean sections will not abate.

Mothers who deliver
their children by caesarean section usually require a longer recovery
period than women who give birth naturally. For example, women who have
undergone caesarean sections are strongly advised by the medical profession
not to drive a vehicle [279] nor lift for six weeks
after delivery.

5.2.7
Mental health

Paid maternity
leave may assist in addressing some of the risk factors for postnatal
depression. [280] Postnatal depression, sometimes
expressed as "slow, tired, hopeless behaviour, eyes filled with
unshed tears or constant crying, or by intense anxiety and frantic behaviour" [281] is experienced by a significant proportion
of new mothers. [282] Depressive symptoms can last
for some months after childbirth. [283] Between 40
per cent and 70 per cent of cases of postnatal depression have their
onset in the first three months after birth. [284] Concern about the mental health of new mothers was expressed in public
consultations and submissions.

Australia is
experiencing a mental health crisis, increasing family and marriage
breakdowns, and high incidences of postnatal depression. Financial
stresses are almost always cited as contributing to, if not causing,
these problems. [285]

The effects of
maternal depression and poor maternal mental health on children range
from a mother's distorted view of her child's health (which may exacerbate
pre-existing anxiety and result in increased and unnecessary use of
health services) to significant developmental and emotional problems
for children. [286]

A recent Australian
population based survey shows that, of the 1 336 women surveyed six
to seven months after childbirth in 1993-1994, 16.9 per cent were depressed
as indicated by scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDN). [287] Depression rates are observed to decline over
the first 24 weeks of the child's life. [288]

Paid maternity
leave was cited in submissions and public consultations as one means
of addressing postnatal depression.

First, [paid
maternity leave] may reduce risk of maternal and child morbidity via
the reduction of financial stress or hardship. Second, it means that
mother's work and family goals are not placed in opposition, reducing
her risk for depression. [289]

Of course, paid
maternity leave should not be viewed as a panacea for all the mental
health issues surrounding motherhood.

Being paid …
won't make most women less tired but will go a long way to relieving
family financial pressures at a time which is one of the most stressful
in a woman's life. [290]

5.2.8
Breastfeeding

The health benefits
of breastfeeding for women include a significant reduction in the risk
of contracting osteoporosis, breast cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian
cancer. [291] Other health benefits of breastfeeding
for women include the encouragement of bonding between mother and baby
and the reduction in bleeding after giving birth. [292]

Several submissions
referred to the need for a period of leave in order to establish a breastfeeding
routine.

A period of paid
maternity leave allows mothers time to … establish breastfeeding.
There is considerable medical evidence to suggest that women benefit
from a period of adjustment after the birth of the baby, which does
not require them to return immediately to structured paid employment.
A well-established breastfeeding routine does take some time to establish
in most circumstances, and a daily routine that reduces the contact
between mother and baby would make this difficult to establish. [293]

[T]he longer
the paid leave, the better chance there is of establishing breastfeeding
… Financial pressures and an unsupportive employer can take away
a mother's choice to breastfeed. Our experience in counseling mothers
through our Breastfeeding Helpline indicates that some mothers either
do not initiate breastfeeding or only do so for a matter of weeks
if they are returning to the paid workforce in the early months after
the birth. [294]

It became very
difficult to establish and then to maintain breastfeeding when I had
to return to work and in fact, became impossible. This is something
I regret deeply but we had no other options. [295]

Establishing a
breastfeeding routine requires time and effort on the part of the mother
as highlighted in an interview with an individual.

I made the decision
when I was pregnant that I wouldn't even try [to breastfeed] …
because the time wouldn't have allowed for it. I couldn't have gone
to work ten days per fortnight and breastfed. It's not an option. [296]

The health benefits
of breastfeeding for infants is discussed below at 5.3.1.

The World Health
Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months
of an infant's life. [297] Many submissions referred
to this recommendation.

The importance
of breastfeeding for women's health (as protection against breast
cancer) as well as for child health has recently been recognized.
It is Federal Government policy to encourage breastfeeding in accordance
with World Health Organization standards. Australian public health
targets propose that up to 80 per cent of children should be partially
breast fed up to six months of age. [298]

Breastfeeding rates
have leveled off in Australia over the last decade, [299] and mothers in lower socio-economic groups are significantly less likely
to breastfeed beyond the first few weeks of their infants' lives. [300]

Around nine in
ten women initiate breastfeeding, but by 12 weeks this has fallen
to 60 per cent. By 6 months only approximately four in ten mothers
are still breastfeeding. [301]

Australian data
show that during 1992-1995, 81.8 per cent of infants were breastfed
following discharge from hospital. At 13 weeks of age, 57.1 per cent
were exclusively breastfed, and 63 per cent exclusively or partially
breastfed. At 25 weeks of age, 18.6 per cent were exclusively breastfed,
and 46.2 per cent exclusively or partially breast fed. [302]

A recent study
found that less than one in ten infants in the Australian Capital Territory
are exclusively breastfed for the recommended six months, even though
initiation rates of breastfeeding are high (92 percent). [303] The study concluded that this was due mainly to supplementation or weaning
onto formula within the first three months, and the early introduction
of solids. Other research suggests that the duration of breastfeeding
is dependent upon the duration of maternity leave. [304]

A number of studies
have estimated the costs of early weaning from breast milk. The attributable
hospitalization costs of early weaning in the Australian Capital Territory
are estimated to be around $1-2 million per annum for five childhood
illnesses [305] having known associations with early
weaning from human milk. [306] The authors emphasised
that these costs are minimum estimates of the true cost of early weaning
as they exclude numerous other chronic or common illnesses, and out-of-hospital
health care costs, such as costs of health care professionals and prescription
costs.

Another study estimated
the Australian public hospital costs of just three common infant illnesses
statistically attributable to formula feeding (assuming a breastfeeding
prevalence of 60 per cent at three months postpartum) to be around $18
million. [307] Again, this estimate excludes private
financial and economic costs associated with post-hospital consultations
with general practitioners and pediatricians, pharmaceutical and nursing
costs, household disruption and productivity losses, and long term morbidity
costs for the infant. The other costs of infant illness such as days
absent from work, days absent from school, or days of reduced activity
are also significant. For example, mothers in the US in the paid workforce
who formula feed their infants have higher absenteeism than breastfeeding
mothers. [308]

Some submissions
linked a period of paid maternity leave to the establishment of breastfeeding.
For example the Women's Electoral Lobby noted that:

[p]roviding working
women with a 14-week period of paid maternity leave is an important
form of support for this policy [of supporting six months of breastfeeding].
Women unfairly bear the costs of this public health strategy unless
maternity leave is paid and other workplace supports and facilities
are supported. [309]

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5.3
Health and wellbeing of babies

5.3.1
Breastfeeding

There is ample
evidence of the health benefits of breastfeeding for children. As was
asserted in one consultation, "… studies show that babies
that are breast fed thrive. They do better." [310]

There is some evidence
to suggest that formula fed infants:

  • are significantly
    more likely to be hospitalised than breastfed babies;
  • suffer twice
    as much illness as breastfed babies even after controlling for socioeconomic
    status; and
  • are 12-31 per
    cent more likely to suffer chronic illness when fed by formula for
    at least three months. [311]

Breastfeeding for
at least four to six months may also reduce both the incidence and severity
of some infectious diseases and other ailments. [312]

A major Canadian
study has found that:

[i]n addition
to the nutritional benefits for the baby, breastfeeding in the critical
early period of brain development appears to have a positive, long-term
impact on the organization of the brain's neural pathways.

…
The weight of the evidence indicates that breastfeeding provides both
optimal nutrition and stimulation for newborn babies and young infants.
Human breast milk contains the optimal balance of nutrients needed
for brain and body growth. The act of breastfeeding provides frequent
opportunities for skin-to-skin touch and smell stimulation. [313]

5.3.2
Bonding

Many submissions
referred to the importance of maternal bonding or attachment for the
child's emotional development.

This bonding
is critical. I'm not saying if you go back [to work] after the child
is 4 days old you won't bond, but there are issues about bonding at
this age and how the child is in later life. [314]

[L]earning occurs
within the context of relationships, emotional and cognitive outcomes
are dependent on the attachments formed with the primary caregiver. [315]

Breastfeeding,
apart from its nutritional benefits, provides the optimum opportunity
for mothers and babies to bond. One submission referred to:

… the absolute
primacy of attachment in the early days and weeks, when mimicry, symbiosis,
breast-feeding, familiar heart-beat and voice, health and sanity of
the mother - all have a vital part to play. [316]

Just as consuming
breast milk compared to formula milk has huge advantages to infants
and their mothers, the physical intimacy between mother and child
during breastfeeding has huge advantages over expressed milk being
fed to the infant by another carer. [317]

A period of paid
leave provides women with the necessary time to bond effectively with
their children.

Parental leave
increases the opportunity for ... attachment to occur. Secure attachment
is the cornerstone for the development of all future relationships. [318]

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5.4
Emotional wellbeing for the father

Several submissions
echoed the comments made at a number of public consultations about the
impact of a new baby on a family's financial and emotional resources.
In particular, new fathers bear a greater proportion of the financial
responsibility for the family, often by working longer hours to compensate
for the loss of the woman's income.

In Australia,
data on working hours also demonstrates that men are more likely to
work particularly long hours when they have babies/young children
- one of the reasons being the mother's loss of income. Families on
low incomes are more likely to be sensitive to foregone income as
a greater proportion of the household's disposable income will be
required to meet the costs associated with child birth. Paid maternity
leave would reduce the pressure on fathers to work long hours, another
valuable social policy outcome. [319]

The Construction,
Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), has recently embarked upon
a campaign for paid maternity leave, on the basis that their (mostly
male) members would not feel the need to work so much overtime whilst
their children are small, if their partners were able to take leave
from work with pay. This suggests that many of the partners of CFMEU
members do take leave when they have a baby, but do not receive any
leave payments. Consequently, their male partners must make up as
much of their lost income as possible by working overtime, and are
not as able to participate in family activities or share any of the
child-care work. Paid maternity leave would therefore benefit fathers
and families as a whole. [320]

Fathers are missing
out because they feel that they have to earn extra money to make up
for the mother staying at home. [321]

Working longer
hours has a deleterious effect on the father's ability to adapt to fatherhood,
to bond with his child, and to provide emotional support and household
assistance for his partner at a particularly stressful time for all
members of the family.

The farmer may
often stay out on the block a lot longer. This means little interaction
with his wife and children because he goes before sunrise and doesn't
come home until after dark. [322]

Sharing in the
care of a newborn provides fathers with confidence in their caring abilities. [323] Often fathers are required to do the bulk of
the care of a newborn if there are birth complications.

Gregory whose
partner had an emergency caesarean birth explained that having a great
deal of early contact with the baby after the birth increased his
confidence in caring for the baby and helped in establishing a bond
between them. [324]

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5.5
Conclusion

HREOC agrees that:

[m]aternity leave
is to provide a measure of employment protection to female employees
in employment who become pregnant, to safeguard the health of the
mother in the period before and after confinement and to enable the
female employee to be absent for child care. [325]

The health and
wellbeing of mothers following childbirth is a key reason to introduce
a secure paid maternity leave scheme. Women need a period of rest to
recover from childbirth before they can resume usual activities. Many
women experience health problems as a consequence of childbirth and
even where these health problems are mild they still require a period
of adjustment. Women who experience multiple health problems or depression
may need a more substantial period of time away from work.

Women should not
be forced to return to work because of financial reasons before they
have this time to recover. The amount of time each woman needs to guarantee
recovery from childbirth will depend on the individual. However, experts
agree that an absolute minimum would be a period of between 12 to 16
weeks. It goes without saying that the health and wellbeing of the child
is likely to be directly affected by that of their mother.

Paid maternity
leave would guarantee new mothers a period of recovery without additional
financial concerns. In addition, paid maternity leave would guarantee
that women who breastfeed have a chance to establish a feeding routine
and to bond with their babies at a crucial time for infant development,
for the direct benefit of the child.

HREOC considers
that paid maternity leave is crucial for the health and wellbeing of
mothers and babies, and that it would indirectly benefit fathers by
reducing financial stress on families and permitting additional parenting
time.

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6.
Economic security

6.1
Introduction

The onset of family
responsibilities usually marks the beginning of reduced economic security
for women since there is a shift either out of work entirely or into
part time and casual work. While the family unit has historically masked
disadvantage of this kind, the changing nature of families now means
that economic disadvantage is borne more directly by individual members.
In addition to this, the changing nature of retirement incomes compounds
this disadvantage and insecurity for women in the latter years of their
lives.

This Chapter explores
the nature of economic insecurity and the contribution paid maternity
leave could make to fostering women's economic security, both short
term and over their lifetimes.

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6.2
Financial support at the time of childbirth

A payment at the
time of childbirth would provide women with economic security by ensuring
that they have access to an adequate level of income. This is an issue
for all women, whether they are in paid work or are caring full time
for a child. The Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association,
for example, stated that the primary objective of a paid maternity leave
scheme must be "the provision of a payment which is sufficient
to ensure that the woman and her family are able to live with dignity
during the period before and after the child is born". [326]

The Women's Action
Alliance considered that providing families with financial support at
the time of the birth of a child was one of the primary objectives of
paid maternity leave. It considered that:

[a]n inclusive
maternity payment would provide appropriate support for women and
families with new babies in terms of timing because when a new child
is brought into the family there is increased cost and workforce disruption. [327]

HREOC is strongly
of the view that the Government should ensure that all women have adequate
financial support at the time of childbirth. Chapter 3 reviews the adequacy
of current government payments in relation to this goal.

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6.3
Income replacement

Under current arrangements
in Australia, the majority of women must forego income from paid work
as a result of giving birth. Over 60 per cent of women in paid work
at the time of birth of their child currently do not have access to
paid maternity leave [328] and so must lose their
income over the period when they leave work to give birth. This is an
issue common to all women in employment who have, or are considering
having, a child. Foregoing income is a particular issue for women in
paid work. While ensuring women who are not in paid work are adequately
supported at the time of childbirth is a significant concern, these
women are not faced with the same reduction in income as a result of
childbirth.

In contrast to
the experience of women in paid work, income reduction is not generally
a problem experienced by men when they become fathers. While men may
choose to take leave at the time of birth of a child, and HREOC supports
measures to encourage men's involvement in the family at childbirth, [329] there is not the same physical necessity to
be absent from the workforce.

Paid maternity
leave has the potential to replace some, if not all, of the income women
lose when they leave the workforce on maternity leave. As one woman
stated "regardless of how much you are earning there is still financial
stress that comes when you lose one salary". [330]

Many submissions
recognised the importance of a scheme of paid maternity leave as an
income replacement mechanism. [331] Income replacement
is different to income support (such as Parenting Payment) and income
supplementation (such as the Family Tax Benefits). Paid maternity leave,
as an income replacement scheme, would be time limited and linked to
workforce participation. The South Australian Commissioner for Equal
Opportunity emphasised that:

[i]t is important
that women receive financial compensation for leave taken due to childbirth
and that they are not disadvantaged financially for taking time off
to have children. [332]

Other submissions
also reflected this view. The Australian Federation of University Women
- Victoria argued that:

[p]aid maternity
leave allows a woman to take a period of time to concentrate on the
needs of her newborn baby and to recuperate from the birth without
financial concern. [333]

The problems caused
by loss of income are exacerbated for women on lower incomes as under
the current system of employer funded paid maternity leave these women
are least likely to have access to paid maternity leave [334] and are also less likely to be able to make use of unpaid parental leave
arrangements due to their financial circumstances. Several submissions
raised this issue.

[A] national
… scheme would be of particular value to women on low incomes.
These women, who make up a significant proportion of women workers,
currently have less access to paid maternity leave than higher income
earners, and without paid leave are more likely to have to return
to work earlier than they would otherwise choose to. [335]

[F]or parents,
in particular low income parents and the growing number of single
parents who have financial commitments, there is often no choice.
These parents are unable to capitalise on the opportunity associated
with 12 months unpaid maternity leave. [336]

[T]he data, and
our own experience, indicates that access to paid maternity leave
and other family-friendly policies is skewed towards those who already
have higher incomes and greater individual workplace status. A substantial
maternity payment would assist in addressing the disadvantage experienced
by low income women. [337]

Lower income earners
also cited the need for two incomes.

I am 27 years
old, just married and paying off a first home. My husband and I would
dearly love to have children but at this time in our life we could
not afford for me to have any length of time off work, we need to
keep up home loan payments and my salary is a large contributor. We
figure it might be possible in about five years time. The only thing
that worries me about that is that I will be in my mid-thirties by
then. [338]

A number of submissions
from highly educated women also pointed out their need for government
assistance around the birth of their children.

I am a skilled
and highly qualified professional permanent resident in Australia,
where I have been employed and have paid income tax to the government
for the past 8 years … My husband and I are now faced with a
dilemma. For the sake of our daughter and ourselves we would like
to consider having another child. The financial consequences however,
prevent this from being an easy choice. My husband was made redundant
from his workplace three months ago. My current income and our achieved
financial assets make my husband ineligible for unemployment benefits
(besides the fact that he is too proud to actually apply for unemployment
benefits). With only my income to support our lifestyle (after our
income was halved due to his unemployment), we are not in a position
to contemplate a second child, as this would render us without any
income for at least a period of 3-6 months. [339]

I am a 29 year
old chemical engineer thinking about having a baby in about 12 months
time. I would like to take around 4 months off, then go back to work
part time, but as my husband is a postgrad student, we will be going
from one income to a part time income if we have a child!! 8 or 12
weeks paid maternity leave would make a big difference during those
initial months! [340]

Submissions also
raised the concern that a short period of paid leave, such as 14 weeks,
may be inadequate since most women take a longer period of leave following
the birth of a child. For example, Australian Business Industrial reported
on a survey of its members that "… the vast majority of women
who had taken the leave had taken the majority of their 12 months statutory
maximum amount of leave". [341] However, HREOC
agrees with the point made in another submission that:

[t]he fact is
that ... women take leave and other forms of time out of the paid
workforce and any contribution of say 14 weeks payment is only a partial
recompense for the costs incurred. [342]

HREOC strongly
emphasises that any minimum period of paid leave would not affect the
ability of eligible women to take advantage of the full period of currently
mandated unpaid leave should they choose, and be in a position, to do
so. The provision of a minimum period of paid leave should be interpreted
as recognition of the legitimacy of a period of time out of the workforce,
and not an exhortation to return before women are prepared to do so.
Further, of course, the period of paid leave will assist many parents
to manage a longer period of unpaid leave.

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6.4
The costs of children

The Cost of
Children
report released by AMP and the National Centre for Social
and Economic Modelling in October 2002, found that the total cost in
today's dollars of raising two children from birth to age 20 is $448
000, or $322 a week. Parents on average spend around $50 000 on education
and childcare. These costs rise if parents choose to send their child
to private schools. [343]

A number of submissions
and consultations pointed out that part of the economic disadvantage
faced by women and their partners in having children relates to the
cost of raising them. The costs of having children, in particular the
costs incurred around the time of childbirth was raised in a consultation
with women's groups and community in Perth.

This child is
an absolute pure luxury because we've made major sacrifices to do
it and to be here now, sacrificed birthday parties for the children,
birthday presents for the children, just everything. The financials
I think are the key obstacle. [344]

The National Pay
Equity Coalition stated that:

[m]ost families
have very limited capacity to meet the additional costs of having
children through savings - especially for second and other children. [345]

This cost is higher
for parents adopting children. Submissions from adoptive parents pointed
out that the system of adoption is largely user-pays, and that adoptive
parents face a particular cost burden associated with building a family. [346] One set of adoptive parents wrote that "[m]any
adoptive families go into considerable debt to adopt children." [347]

The capacity of
paid maternity leave to assist families with the cost of children was
challenged in the submission from the Australian Chamber of Commerce
and Industry, which argued that:

[f]inancial commitments
to children are clearly decades long and extend in financial and time
terms well beyond any options for additional maternal benefits. [348]

There is no doubt
that the cost of raising children is more than offset for most parents
by the rewards of parenthood. Nevertheless, while financial assistance
is currently available to families, HREOC considers paid maternity leave
to be a further measure of assistance, especially with costs incurred
at the time of the birth, but with the additional feature of making
full time parental care possible for a limited period of time.

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6.5
Women's lifetime earnings

In addition to
losing short term income, a woman's lifetime earning capacity is severely
reduced as a result of leaving the workforce to bear and raise children.

A study undertaken
by the Australian National University estimates that women with high
levels of education (12 years) forego $239 000 in lifetime earnings
from having one child. A woman with average education (10 years) forgoes
$201 000 and a women with a low level of education (less than 10 years)
foregoes $157 000. [349]

Some submissions
argued that in providing direct compensation for a specified period,
paid maternity leave goes some way to addressing the lifetime earning
inequities women experience as a result of leaving the workforce to
bear and raise children. [350]

HREOC acknowledges
that paid maternity leave in its own right will have limited impact
on the reduced lifetime earnings of women as a result of their ongoing
commitment to family responsibilities. [351] However,
by assisting women to maintain their labour force attachment and making
it easier for women to combine work and family, paid maternity leave
will contribute to raising women's earnings across their lifetime. As
stated by the National Pay Equity Coalition, "[l]onger duration
of employment is associated with better pay, higher level jobs and greater
retirement income". [352]

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6.6
Superannuation and retirement incomes for women

Currently Australian
women workers have substantially poorer retirement incomes than men.
This is in part the result of their more limited time in the workforce,
pay inequities and systemic discrimination in access to job opportunities
for women, mostly as a result of their child bearing responsibilities.
This was raised in a consultation held with union representatives in
Perth.

Motherhood impoverishes
women but fatherhood doesn't impoverish men … Men do not have
to choose. Fatherhood doesn't reflect on their superannuation. [353]

The National Pay
Equity Coalition referred to research that estimates:

[m]en's retirement
incomes are 50% higher than women on the same income because of women's
time out of paid work. A woman on the median income for women who
works from the age of twenty to the age of sixty with a five year
break in her late twenties would retire on 1.5 times the age pension,
while a man working from twenty to sixty would retire on three times
the age pension. [354]

Superannuation
accumulations are maximised for individuals when they remain in the
workforce for long, ongoing periods of time at high wages. This is not
the life experience of women, as noted in the Ethnic Communities' Council
of Victoria submission.

Women are disadvantaged
in saving for their retirement if they need to give up work to have
children. Women are more likely than men to have little or no superannuation,
and repeated entry and exits from the workforce for childbirth and
childrearing result in lower superannuation contributions as well
as the loss of seniority and the recurrent need to establish wages
and other entitlements. [355]

The increasing
rate of divorce means that women's superannuation savings have and will
continue to take on increased significance for women's economic security. [356] As stated in the YWCA of Victoria submission,
"… it is not very radical to suggest that young women cannot
plan on being financially dependent on another person in their older
age". [357]

The problem of
low retirement incomes for women is exacerbated by their greater longevity
compared with men. This, combined with their tendency to retire early,
results in women spending twice as many years in retirement as men. [358] HREOC considers low retirement income to be
one of the most pressing aspects of systemic discrimination against
women.

The provision of
paid maternity leave will not solve this problem. Addressing women's
retirement income is a significant issue that will require major government
attention and action in coming years. However, paid maternity leave
can contribute to improving women's superannuation savings in an indirect
manner by assisting women to maintain their labour force attachment
and making it easier for women to combine work and family. As stated
in the submission by the Women's Economic Policy Analysis Unit:

… policies
that support women in paid employment will have a positive effect
on superannuation accumulations … paid maternity leave, by definition,
will increase income over the lifecycle and superannuation accumulations. [359]

Some submissions
suggested that a national scheme of paid maternity leave should include
a provision for superannuation payments to continue during the period
of paid leave. [360]

The Women's Economic
Policy Analysis Unit of Curtin University considered women's retirement
incomes in its submission. It referred to a study which modeled the
impact of paid maternity leave on women's lifetime earnings and superannuation
accumulations. [361] With continued superannuation
payments during a period of 12 weeks paid leave in a variety of scenarios,
the authors estimated an effect of between one per cent and four per
cent on superannuation accumulations at age 60.

The Women's Economic
Think Tank [362] and the Women's Electoral Lobby [363] proposed that these superannuation costs should
be met by the Government. Others, including the Women's Economic Policy
Analysis Unit [364] and one individual [365] suggested that Government meet the cost of the maternity leave payments
and that employers provide superannuation payments for this period.

The Work + Family
Policy Research Group, University of Sydney submitted that:

[a] key rationale
for paid maternity leave is the maintenance and protection of women's
lifetime income and superannuation contributions are a significant
component of this. We recommend continuation of this contribution
throughout maternity leave, but further investigations need to be
carried out about the mechanisms for this and the respective obligations
of employers, employees and government. [366]

HREOC has not included
a compulsory superannuation contribution in its proposed model for paid
maternity leave, although it is noted that employers and employees may
negotiate such a top up to the government scheme through enterprise
bargaining. [367] The Government may wish to further
consider the treatment of superannuation in the context of national
provision of paid maternity leave.

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6.7
Labour force attachment

There is some debate
in Australia about the benefits of women retaining their workforce attachment
after establishing their families, although there is little debate about
the macro-economic benefits of women returning to the workforce, bringing
their skills and experience with them.

Many women in Australia
leave the workforce either permanently or for several years following
the birth of a child. Others return to work, either full time or part
time, in the first year of their child's life. [368] The decisions that women and their families make are affected by a number
of factors, including:

  • personal preferences;
  • social mores;
  • financial issues,
    including family finances and the availability of government assistance
    that support particular family arrangements; and
  • structural factors
    such as levels of discrimination, the availability of childcare and
    sufficient employment, particularly part time work or suitable hours.

There are advantages
to women in maintaining some workforce attachment - a reality recognised
by the majority of those women who are in paid work by the time their
youngest child reaches school age. Sixty- six per cent of female parents
are in the labour force when their youngest child is between 6 -13 years
of age. [369] As the Work + Family Policy Research
Group of Sydney University noted:

… maintaining
women's attachment to the workforce is an important factor in reducing
their welfare dependency and the consequential poverty experienced
by many Australian children. [370]

The Victorian Government
noted that:

[i]t is widely
recognised that there are economic benefits from having women return
to work following maternity leave and that paid maternity leave may
assist in their attachment to the labour force. [371]

There is debate
about the degree to which paid maternity leave can promote women's workforce
attachment.

There is some evidence
that maternity leave paid by an organisation can increase loyalty of
the worker to the organisation and dramatically increase return to work
rates of women who take maternity leave. [372] Some
submissions argued that if the employer provides paid maternity leave,
employees are more inclined to return to work for their original employer
after the birth of a child. [373] For example, the
Australian Nursing Federation noted that:

[i]t is regularly
reported by companies that the introduction of paid maternity leave
has increased the proportion of women who return to work after maternity
leave. [374]

Anecdotal evidence
supports the labour force attachment effect of employer funded paid
maternity leave as the following case studies indicate.

  • Westpac Banking
    Corporation introduced six weeks paid maternity leave in 1995. The
    proportion of women returning to work from maternity leave increased
    from 32 per cent in 1995 to 53 per cent in 1997. [375]
  • AMP reported
    an increase in retention rates from 52 per cent in 1992 to 90 per
    cent in 1997, following the introduction of paid parental leave. [376]
  • Hewlett Packard
    reported a greater than 90 per cent return rate from paid maternity
    leave. [377]
  • SC Johnson recorded
    100 per cent return rates since introducing paid maternity leave. [378]

The Australian
Industry Group noted that "[f]rom an employer perspective, there
is much to gain from encouraging continued workforce participation by
mothers". [379]

These workforce
attachment effects are likely to be reduced when maternity leave is
funded by Government. However, a number of submissions considered that
even a government funded model of paid maternity leave is likely to
encourage and assist women to maintain their workforce attachment. [380] For example, the Work + Family Policy Research Group stated that:

[p]aid maternity
leave would go some way to ensuring women have the option of taking
time off work to give birth and recover without necessarily withdrawing
from the workforce. [381]

The National Pay
Equity Coalition suggested that paid maternity leave:

… provides
a bridge to continuing participation in paid work and ongoing economic
self-sufficiency rather than requiring an ongoing downgrading of standard
of living and/or entering into income support arrangements. [382]

Paid maternity
leave is likely to encourage workforce attachment as much by the legitimacy
it gives working mothers as by the financial incentive it offers. An
individual submittor argued that "[p]aid maternity leave is the
first missing link that aids women to continue their careers whilst
also choosing to have a family". [383]

Women's Economic
Think Tank noted that:

[t]he legitimation
of maternity leave by such payments will reinforce the work and parenting
connection and thereby it will be more likely that employment connections
will be maintained. [384]

A national scheme
would help to address the concern expressed by some women that in male
dominated workplaces where paid maternity leave is available as the
result of enterprise bargaining or award entitlements, female workers
are still reluctant to take it for fear of creating workplace resentment.

According to the
YWCA of Australia, the payment must be extended to casual, part time
and contract workers if it is to enhance the workforce attachment of
young women who are disproportionately represented in industries where
casual and part time work is highly prevalent. [385]

While the range
of factors leading women back into the workforce after childbirth should
be recognised, particularly the financial limitations facing many families,
women's workforce attachment should not be viewed merely as a constrained
decision made by women against their better judgements.

As noted at 18.4.1,
the provision of paid maternity leave would not involve any requirement
for return to work at the end of the period of paid, or further unpaid,
leave. In discussing workforce retention, the consideration is not to
impose any obligation or pressure on women and their families to participate
in the paid workforce, but to ensure that structural disincentives to
work are reduced.

Some submissions,
however, fundamentally questioned the desirability of women returning
to work with dependent children. The Women's Action Alliance, for example,
declared that "[n]o such incentive is required. In fact, probably
the last thing we need is further incentives for mothers to be in paid
work". [386] Another noted:

I do not support
the paid maternity scheme. Better, for greater encouragement to mothers
at home, to continue to stay at home during the few early years of
infancy and childhood. I have survived and benefited from family values
as we have chosen to be a single income earner for the last 20 years
while my wife cared for our 5 children, and continues to do so. We
could use more encouragement for more of this to happen. [387]

A number of commentators
consider that the needs of children require that one parent, usually
the mother, remain at home for many years to provide full time care.
Others refer to research, including opinion polls, which suggest that
women prefer to remain at home with young children. Despite a range
of socio-economic factors which have driven the increasing participation
rate of mothers in paid work over the past twenty years, clearly there
is still community disagreement about the desirability of this trend.

While the conclusions
about women's preferences may be debatable, it is true, as Catherine
Hakim's analysis has made clear, that women are drawing from an array
of options for their work and family arrangements. [388] Social equity is maximised by facilitating a broad range of choices,
thus the need for Governments to support a number of different work
and family arrangements.

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6.8
Conclusion

Paid maternity
leave will directly contribute to increasing women's economic security
by providing a guaranteed source of income at the time of birth of a
child. In particular, paid maternity leave will provide income replacement
for those women in employment who are currently required to forego their
regular income as a result of taking time out of the workforce to give
birth. Paid maternity leave will also help families with the additional
costs faced at the time of birth of a child.

Paid maternity
leave will assist some women to maintain their labour force attachment
and make it easier for women to combine work and family. This will have
longer term benefits for women by improving their lifetime earnings
and increasing their superannuation savings.

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7.
Addressing workplace disadvantage

7.1
Introduction

Australian workplaces
are structured around historical arrangements intended to maximise workplace
efficiency but which are frequently at odds with the private lives and
responsibilities of Australian men and women. This particularly applies
to work and family responsibilities. One of the consequences for women
of the incongruencies in workplace and family arrangements is discrimination
and workforce disadvantage.

This Chapter explores
the nature of workplace disadvantage experienced by women as a result
of maternity. It also considers paid maternity leave as a work related
entitlement and how a national scheme of paid maternity leave ensures
fairness of this entitlement across the workforce.

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7.2
Sex discrimination in employment

Women continue
to experience employment discrimination based on their sex, pregnancy
or family responsibilities. For example, women are often dismissed,
demoted or harassed when they become pregnant. [389] When women experience sex discrimination there are legal provisions
in place to provide a remedy. Australia currently has legislation that
makes employment discrimination on the basis of sex and pregnancy unlawful.
At the federal level, the relevant legislation is the Sex Discrimination
Act. [390] The Sex Discrimination Act also prevents
dismissal of employees on the basis of their family responsibilities.
Industrial and workplace relations legislation gives pregnant employees
protection against dismissal, and guarantees non-casual employees a
right to return to their employment after a period of unpaid maternity
leave. [391]

Despite these protections,
women continue to experience discrimination and unfavourable treatment
at work when they become pregnant, give birth and return to work. In
the 2001-2002 year, pregnancy and family responsibilities discrimination
complaints to HREOC made up 32 per cent of all complaints under the
Sex Discrimination Act. [392] In addition, many complaints
of sex discrimination concern issues relating to family responsibilities.

Other complaints
and advisory bodies reported to HREOC that discrimination against employed
women because of childbirth or child-rearing responsibilities remains
a serious problem. The Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales
wrote that women in their child bearing years face "… serious
and significant sex discrimination and harassment in employment". [393]

This discrimination
commonly takes the form of lower remuneration for women, demotion,
failure to be appointed or promoted, dismissal actual or constructive,
due to potential pregnancy, pregnancy and post pregnancy return to
work issues. Women continue to face discrimination the grounds of
their carer's and family responsibilities for many years after the
birth of a child. [394]

The New South Wales
Working Women's Centre also expressed concern about the level of discrimination
against women because of maternity, stating that their research indicates
women in paid work are:

… continuing
to experience difficulties during pregnancy, whilst on maternity leave
and during the return to work, as attested by the 17% of calls to
the Centre in the past year … This is despite existing provisions
for statutory unpaid maternity leave in conjunction with remedies
against discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, sex and family
responsibilities, as well as unfair dismissal … [395]

Similarly, the
Queensland Working Women's Service wrote that their Service:

… frequently
receives complaints from women who have been dismissed from their
employment due to their pregnancy. Often women are unable to prove
that this is the case but have a strong sense that things changed
for them at work when it became known that they were pregnant. Currently
some workers are excluded from the right to claim for unfair dismissal
in these circumstances. We consider that paid maternity leave will
assist in redressing some of the disadvantage that women face due
to their childbearing role. [396]

These submissions
support HREOC's concern that the incidence of discrimination against
pregnant women and women with family responsibilities remains unacceptably
high.

Anti-discrimination
legislation is crucial in protecting women's interests at work, but
it is aimed at providing a remedy for individuals who have suffered
disadvantage through specific acts or practices in their workplaces.
By itself, anti-discrimination legislation cannot eliminate discrimination
that is generalised, diffuse and systemic. The Work + Family Policy
Research Group at Sydney University submitted that current anti-discrimination
legislation is insufficient to overcome gender inequities.

Australia's system
of social justice has recognised since the 1970s that specific measures
are necessary to overcome the inequities experienced by women in the
workforce. Yet, despite anti-discrimination legislation and pay equity
initiatives, it is quite well established that Australian women still
experience significant disadvantage in the workplace. While there
is a range of reasons for this, key to overcoming the continuing inequity
is attending to the economic disruption caused by taking leave without
pay to bear and care for children. [397]

Some submissions
considered that paid maternity leave would complement existing anti-discrimination
laws in addressing sex discrimination in employment. The New South Wales
Public Service Association wrote that:

… a scheme
of paid maternity leave for women workers is consistent with national
objectives of anti-discrimination and support for workers with family
responsibilities as articulated in federal legislation. [398]

The Independent
Education Union pointed out the social significance of anti-discrimination
legislation, which "… represents the nation's community standards
…" That submission argued that paid maternity leave would
have a similar "… ethical and social justice significance
…" [399]

However, the submission
from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry questioned the
relevance of discrimination to the paid maternity leave issue, saying
that figures demonstrating a high incidence of pregnancy discrimination
"… do nothing to justify a new entitlement, nor do they show
that the current system is not working - arguably precisely the opposite". [400] That submission stated that:

[a]ny unequal
treatment of women in the workplace based on their role in bearing
and caring for children can and should be addressed using anti-discrimination
options at the state and federal level. [401]

In HREOC's view,
the ongoing discrimination against women in paid work is an indication
that additional action is required to address sex discrimination in
employment and to promote changes to attitudes and behaviour. Policies
such as paid maternity leave can make a positive contribution to addressing
this goal.

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7.3
Women's workplace disadvantage

The historical
development of modern society has seen remuneration restricted to tasks
performed in the public domain. As such, the bearing and raising of
children, as a function designated to the private domain, receives no
remuneration. These functions are primarily performed by women, who
as a result find themselves with less economic security than their male
counterparts. Joan Williams has pointed out that structures which support
male patterns of work disadvantage women.

[M]arket work
continues to be structured in ways that perpetuate the economic vulnerability
of caregivers. Their vulnerability stems from our definition of the
ideal worker as someone who works at least forty hours a week year
round. This ideal-worker norm, framed around the traditional life
patterns of men, excludes most mothers of childbearing age. [402]

This is not to
suggest that women cannot be in paid work and renumerated accordingly.
As noted by the Union Research Centre on Organisation and Technology,
"[w]omen can be mothers and workers just as men can be fathers
and workers. Yet the implications of such situations for women and men
are vastly different". [403] Although the male
breadwinner model of family structure is no longer the situation in
most families, "… the arrangements for work in many industries
are still based on these working relationships". [404] The majority of women therefore earn less, have lower retirement incomes
and are more likely to be welfare dependent than men. [405]

As argued in the
submission from Marty Grace:

… because
of the historical development of our institutions, practices are built
on a gendered division of labour, and the fiction of separate public
and private spheres … We want to change the rules to enable us
to be both the workers and the parents we want to be. [406]

It is not only
women who are disadvantaged by working within this gendered structure.
It is important to bear in mind that the gender roles within which we
all work disadvantage men as well as women.

The commonplace
observation is that women are hurt by the hard choices they face.
Once the focus shifts away from women's choices to the gender system
that sets the frame within which those choices occur, we can see that
domesticity's peculiar structuring of market work and family work
hurts not only women but also men, children, politics and our emotional
life. [407]

Many submissions
pointed out that women's inequality is not only caused by individual
acts of sex discrimination, but general, entrenched and ongoing workplace
disadvantage. While many women choose unpaid work in the home, this
choice should not mean that they are treated unfairly when they enter
the paid workforce or that their home-based work should be undervalued.

One of the key
reasons given in submissions for women's unequal status in relation
to men is their disproportionate participation in unpaid and underpaid
work. For example, Karen Simmer, from the Neonatology Clinical Care
Unit of the University of Western Australia, noted that women's responsibility
for childbirth and rearing prevents them from reaching positions of
seniority in employment.

Girls in schools
do well, often better than boys. However, in most professions and
businesses, few women have progressed to the higher levels. One of
the main and clearly obvious reasons for this is women take time off
to have children and never return to the workforce in the same capacity
or with the same opportunities as those without children or a man
with children. This is an indisputable fact and overwhelmingly obvious
to any working mother. For the sake of our daughters, we need to campaign
vigorously to help them have the options and choices to continue work
after they have children, if they so choose to do so. [408]

The Queensland
Working Women's Service linked women's key role in child care to women's
wages, promotions and workforce participation.

There are many
reasons why gender inequality persists but we can link much of this
to the social, economic and biological effect of childbirth and child
rearing. Women still bear much of the responsibilities of family and
child caring. When we examine women's wages, promotions and workforce
participation we find that in child-bearing years women's employment
suffers. The birth of a child imposes immediate financial pressures
on women and their families and often results in their dislocation
from work and impedes their future work experience. In order to advance
equity, security and human dignity women workers need to be able to
resolve the problems associated with childbearing and workforce participation. [409]

The Australian
Council of Trade Unions wrote: "[p]ut simply, men can become parents
without disrupting their work, women cannot". [410] Some of the general disadvantage or systemic discrimination that women
face was summed up in a submission from the YWCA of Victoria.

Women experience
discrimination in relation to employment in many ways, including the
concentration of women in particular sectors or industries which are
relatively low paying, the continuing comparative lack of women in
senior management, the concentration of women working in the informal
sector and as casual employees, and difficulties for women in securing
employment that is flexible and responsive to their roles as parents
and carers. [411]

A few submissions
questioned whether systemic discrimination is a continuing problem for
women today. One submission, from the National Women's Council of South
Australia, noted that:

[l]atest surveys
of women identify that the majority of professional women no longer
believe that concepts like "glass ceilings" are hampering
their progress but rather they are mostly disadvantaged by their own
insecurities and personal constraints. It is too easy to rely on this
old (and tired) observation [about systemic discrimination] as an
excuse and women themselves are realising that. [412]

Another argued
that since women are responsible for making choices that have an adverse
impact on their lives, "[t]he systemic discrimination is within
the female culture rather than the workforce". [413]

However, almost
all submissions recognised, either implicitly or explicitly, that women
do suffer workplace disadvantage and discrimination as a result of their
responsibilities for bearing and caring for children. These submissions,
discussed below, all suggested that women's continued disadvantage is
an issue that needs further attention and remedy.

The National Tertiary
Education Union viewed paid maternity leave as a means of combating
workplace disadvantage.

Women in work
face unique disadvantage, including employment discrimination, lack
of access to career progression and low wages compared with their
male counterparts. This disadvantage is often exacerbated greatly
if a woman chooses to have a child. Paid maternity leave for working
women is one way to combat this kind of overall disadvantage for women
… [414]

One union submitted
that the positive benefits of introducing paid maternity leave include
"[c]losing the gender pay inequity gap …" and "…
address[ing] systemic discrimination and disadvantage suffered by women
when they seek to balance child-bearing and paid work". [415] As one individual wrote, "[w]omen need to be encouraged to be mothers
and take their place in the workforce without being disadvantaged". [416]

Workplace disadvantage
distorts or changes the choices people will make. Often the cost of
this is borne by the community, and not just the individual. HREOC believes
that paid maternity leave is one small element in the endeavour to restructure
our working arrangements to better accommodate the needs of mothers
and their families and in particular new born babies. It also provides
compensation for the disadvantage women suffer under current arrangements
for family formation. [417]

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7.4
Fairness for all employees

A number of submissions
were concerned that some women in the workforce currently have access
to paid maternity leave while the majority do not. This is an important
issue for HREOC, raising basic principles of fairness and the need for
all women to be able to recover from birth and establish a relationship
with their new babies. The uneven provision of paid maternity leave
is akin to providing paid sick leave to only some workers and not to
others.

The objective of
ensuring that women have a financially secure period of time out of
the workforce in order to recover from childbirth should be met for
all women in paid work. The issue of equity applies not just to each
woman's right to recover from the birth of her child without returning
to work prematurely for financial reasons, but also to the right of
each child to have access to their mother in the weeks immediately following
child birth without financial pressure forcing their separation.

As set out at 3.3
the existing arrangements for paid maternity leave in Australia are
inadeqate. Over 60 per cent of female employees do not have access to
paid maternity leave. [418] Further, the current
spread of paid maternity leave through the Australian workforce is uneven.
Whether any particular employee will have access to paid maternity leave
will depend on the type of organisation and industry she works in, as
well as her occupation and employment status.

Women working in
smaller organisations and the private sector are more limited in their
access to paid maternity leave, compared to women working in the public
sector and larger organisations.

Highly skilled
women in full time work have greater access to paid maternity leave
than women in more marginal employment, with lower skills, who are in
part time or casual work. Fifty-one per cent of women in full time work,
21 per cent of women in part time work and 0.4 per cent of women in
casual employment reported that they had access to paid maternity leave. [419]

Sixty-five per
cent of managers and administrators and 54 per cent of professionals
had access to paid maternity leave. In contrast only 18 per cent of
elementary clerical, sales and service workers and 21 per cent of labourers
and related workers had access to paid maternity leave. [420]

HREOC is of the
strong view that the market and enterprise bargaining have failed to
provide fair access for all employees to paid maternity leave and do
not reflect the social benefits of children, and raising children. A
maternity leave payment "based on the luck of the draw is likely
to further entrench the divisions between the "haves and have nots". [421] As one woman commented to HREOC:

If people are
left to negotiate their own conditions of employment sometimes you
do well and sometimes you don't. There are some professions which
traditionally do very poorly, such as teachers, nurses and childcare
workers, anything that is female dominated. [422]

As noted in the
submission by Lyn Collins and Barbara Pocock:

[h]aving a paid
maternity break depends on which workplace you happen to be in at
the time of the birth, on the random generosity of your employer,
or on the assertiveness of your union. [423]

Another woman noted
her resentment at the different treatment of women in different sectors.

I watch the news
and I see the stories about the women who work in a bank and get all
this paid maternity leave and I think: what makes you so bloody special?
What makes you giving birth to a baby any more special than me. What
makes your baby worth more than mine? [424]

Several submissions
argued that paid maternity leave was particularly important as a protection
for the most vulnerable groups of women workers, who were affected by
multiple forms of discrimination or disadvantage. These included women
on low incomes, from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or non-English
speaking backgrounds and in insecure employment. [425] BPW New South Wales asserted that the provision of a paid maternity
leave scheme would "… be a necessity over the coming years
as we see more women being forced to make the choice of a career over
family just to survive". [426] This point was
also raised in consultations with HREOC, where it was argued that paid
maternity leave would increase the status of the most disadvantaged
workers.

[I]f you are
the person who pulls the entrails out of the chicken on the processing
line you don't have choice, but if you get recognition through paid
maternity leave you have a status that you never had before and you
can engage in a way with your community in a very different way because
you are recognised. It's very easy to have women in professional work
talk about choice but the majority of women in Australia work part
time/casual and they don't have that. This provides a dignity, a status,
a recognition of the work done. [427]

The submission
of Immigrant Women's Speakout pointed out that some groups of employed
immigrant and refugee women are much more likely than Australian-born
employed women to have children. It argues that these patterns are significant
in considering paid maternity leave. [428] The Ethnic
Communities' Council of Victoria drew together issues of the relative
disadvantage of women from non-English speaking backgrounds and their
greater levels of casual or intermittent employment to emphasise the
need for a scheme of paid maternity leave to ensure equitable coverage
for all workers. [429]

The issues and
difficulties faced by Indigenous women need to be specifically addressed
in relation to a paid maternity leave scheme as noted in the submission
from the New South Wales Working Women's Centre.

[F]rom the Centre's
own work with women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds,
we can report a concentration in certain industries (community services
and health in particular - with a higher level of project-based fixed-term
employment) in the lower-skilled and lower-paid occupations. [430]

Disruptions to
women's paid work can be the cause of workplace vulnerability as women
are more likely than men to be casual or part time workers, with fewer
entitlements. A significant number of submissions were concerned about
the lack of paid maternity leave currently available to women in part
time and casual work or contract based employment who together constitute
almost half the workforce. Existing paid maternity leave provisions
are usually restricted to women in permanent full time work. A national
scheme of paid maternity leave can offset this disadvantage.

Despite the fact
that there has been a rise in the participation rates for women in
the workforce they remain the primary care givers of children. That
is one of the reasons that women in South Australia are over represented
in part time and casual work and do not have equal access to minimum
leave entitlements. If women are to improve their participation in
the workforce in permanent and higher paying occupations it will be
important that a total package of family support is available. Paid
maternity leave is one part of such a package. [431]

A union argued
that "[o]ur members are predominantly low income workers, and few
have access to benefits such as paid maternity leave for reasons of
poor job security and high casual employment". [432]

The Hawke Institute
submitted that:

[i]ncreasingly
women make up a considerable proportion of part time, casual and contract
workforce. Unless the entitlement is extended to all workers, both
full and part time, the policy would risk exacerbating the horizontal
segregation which is already a worrying feature of the Australian
workforce, especially in relation to gender based disadvantage. [433]

Concern was also
expressed about the need for self employed women to have access to paid
maternity leave. The National Pay Equity Coalition noted that:

[b]usinesses
carried out by self-employed people are almost by definition small
and generate low incomes. The people who run them have limited capacity
to save for the costs and foregone income of maternity. It may be
that for some businesses the need to take time off without income
and without a capacity to engage someone else to replace the work
of the self-employed person would cause the demise of the business. [434]

The International
President of the Federation of BPW, also highlighted the need for self
employed women to have access to paid maternity leave.

Women who own
their own business are no less entitled to the benefit than those
in the employed workforce and as business owners, incur expenses in
keeping their business running whilst they are caring for the baby. [435]

HREOC agrees that
any national scheme of paid maternity leave should ensure that all women
in paid work should, so far as practicable, have equivalent access.

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7.5
Balancing work and family responsibilities

Increased workforce
participation of women has not been accompanied by men significantly
increasing their responsibilities in caring for and raising children. [436] The result is that women retain the major responsibility
for caring for children as well as participating in the paid workforce.

Many of those consulted
expressed a desire to see men more able to share in family responsibilities.
There was almost unanimous agreement that this would be beneficial for
children, women and men.

As observed by
the women's organisation Mothers of In(ter)vention, "… men
need to lift their game in the home, but their workplaces need to allow
time to be there enough to do so". [437]

In addition to
the concern that men be able to contribute more to family life, several
submissions observed how difficult the management of work and family
balance is for women and that frequently women are discouraged from
attempting it.

The Shop, Distributive
and Allied Employees' Association surveyed its members nationally and
found that, of those mothers who did not return to work following the
birth of a child, 25 per cent said that they wanted to stay home and
19 per cent went to a different employer. The others appear to have
been deterred from returning because of structural biases and disincentives
including 22 per cent who said that suitable hours could not be arranged,
and others who believed that achieving a work-life balance was too difficult,
that satisfactory childcare was not available, and that the economic
benefits of work were not "worth the hassle". [438]

In those submissions
concerned with achieving a better work and family balance, paid maternity
leave was considered to be only part of the solution. Employers and
employer organisations noted that employers already provide a complex
array of family assistance to their employees.

Australian Business
Industrial noted that "… for employers, the obligations to
their employees with family responsibilities do not cease with the provision
of paid maternity leave". [439] This submission
asserted that "[m]aternity leave can only be considered as one
of a suite of measures to enable a work-family balance". [440]

Even so, many submissions
and consultations considered paid maternity leave to be an essential
part of these work and family policy suites. The Illawarra Forum and
the Illawarra Women's Health Centre, for example, asserted that paid
maternity leave "… would provide one part of a whole series
of entitlements that ultimately lead to family friendly employment structures". [441]

In a consultation
held with employer groups in Melbourne, it was stated that:

[p]aid maternity
leave is a very important issue as it addresses the work/family issue
… more effectively. It is a structural change. [442]

As BPW Australia
noted, a scheme of paid maternity leave "… needs to be part
of a long-term plan for supporting Australians to balance their work
and family commitments". [443]

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7.6
Conclusion

Women experience
sex discrimination and workplace disadvantage as a result of maternity.
While not a total solution, paid maternity leave can contribute to overcoming
these barriers. HREOC considers that access to a financially secure
period out of the workforce in order to recover from child birth should
be a basic right for women. The current ad hoc arrangements for paid
maternity leave are unfair and further disadvantage the most vulnerable
women in the workforce. A national scheme of paid maternity leave will
extend access to paid leave across the workforce. Paid maternity leave
will also make it easier for women to combine work and family responsibilities.

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8.
Equality

8.1
Introduction

A significant number
of submissions raised the issues of equality, equity and discrimination.
The majority of these submissions expressed concern about women's equality
and advocated paid maternity leave as a means of achieving equality
between men and women.

CEDAW, to which
Australia is a party, is based on the principle of equality of men and
women. This involves "… the participation of women, on equal
terms with men, in the political, social, economic and cultural life
of their countries". [444]

Equality in this
context is more than simply ensuring women's economic security or eliminating
discrimination against women in employment due to their child bearing
role. Achieving equality involves "… the maximum participation
of women on equal terms with men in all fields". [445]

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8.2
Paid maternity leave as an equality issue

Paid maternity
leave is one measure that supports women moving between work in the
home and the world of paid employment. In international conventions,
paid maternity leave is proposed as a means of addressing workplace
discrimination and promoting equality between men and women. [446] The International Labour Organization states that a principle objective
of paid maternity leave is "… to further promote equality
of all women in the workforce". [447]

Many submissions
placed gender equality or non-discrimination principles as one of the
primary objectives of any paid maternity leave scheme. For example,
one submission stated that "[n]o civilised country, which regards
equality between the sexes as important, could neglect to address paid
maternity leave". [448] The Centre for Applied
Social Research suggested that "[e]xplicitly naming gender equality
as an objective of the proposed paid maternity leave scheme may also
help address the 'motherhood' discrimination that exists in the workforce". [449]

As the Queensland
Working Women's Service wrote:

[t]he primary
objectives of a paid maternity leave scheme should be to further facilitate
equity for women, through recognition of their needs and choices around
the issue of child bearing. [450]

The Work/Life Association
submitted that one of the main objectives of a paid maternity leave
scheme was:

… social
equity for women, including addressing systemic discrimination, fairness
(especially with respect to current inequities in relation to access
to paid maternity leave, currently available to about a quarter of
working women); supporting women's choices, ensuring that women
are not disadvantaged in their employment through their intrinsic
role in child bearing
, and developing socially responsive Australian
workplaces … [451]

The National Women's
Council of South Australia wrote that they supported the different objectives
raised in the paper, and specifically endorsed the "[e]limination
of discrimination in society
" [452] as an
objective of paid maternity leave.

Another submission
argued that the objective of paid maternity leave should be to support
a "… balance in the workforce of men and women". [453]

Consultations also
identified discrimination or inequality as reasons to introduce paid
maternity leave.

[Paid maternity
leave] is about removing the inequity [women] suffer when they are
out of the workforce - their careers suffer when they take maternity
leave, they always face discrimination when they return. [454]

Many submissions
that proposed equality or anti-discrimination as primary objectives
of a paid maternity leave scheme did so on the basis that a paid maternity
leave scheme would assist in addressing women's workplace disadvantage. [455] Coles Myer considered that paid maternity leave
would contribute to workplace equity.

An additional
benefit of a paid maternity leave scheme would be to reduce the extent
of financial disadvantage experienced by women as a result of the
necessity to take time out of the workforce in order to have children,
thereby contributing to greater workplace equity. [456]

Another submission
argued that paid maternity leave would advance equality by easing the
transition into and out of paid work, given that:

… many women
want to be mothers and have jobs. Paid maternity leave is an important
part of the support that is essential if women are to truly have equal
opportunity at work … Equality in the workplace will be advanced
if women have the chance to take time off, and return to work in good
shape, without compromising their career, if that is what they want. [457]

The YWCA of Victoria
referred to the fact that it is inequitable to require women to cobble
together other forms of leave in order to take time off to have a baby,
or to forego income altogether. [458]

Submissions acknowledged
that paid maternity leave alone could not bring about gender equality,
with statements that paid maternity leave "[w]ill go some way towards
addressing systemic discrimination on the basis of gender". [459]

Paid maternity
leave was also identified in submissions as a benefit that would assist
in creating greater equality between disadvantaged and more privileged
women, as well as between men and women.

The emphasis
on paid maternity leave as a workplace entitlement and on removing
as many barriers as possible to access [a] paid maternity leave scheme
is consistent with a principle of promoting gender equality not just
between men and women but also between different groups of women. [460]

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8.3
Arguments against equality objectives for paid maternity leave

Some submissions
questioned whether a scheme of paid maternity leave would address the
issue of women's equality or disadvantage at all.

One submission
made the point that "[i]t is unrealistic to expect that the area
of employment should be magically exempt from any disadvantageous effect". [461] The Women's Action Alliance considered that
paid maternity leave would not contribute to workplace equity.

Certainly paid
workplace opportunities for women are constrained by their having
children, or at least they are delayed. But young women seem to be
under the impression that if they take more than a few months out
of paid work to care for their families they will destroy their career
prospects. This in not borne out by observing the lives of many, many
women who have borne several children and later climbed to career
heights. (One female member of the federal parliament has eight children
and several of them have four or five.) [462]

A number of submissions
also warned that a system that required employers to directly fund paid
maternity leave for their own employees would create discrimination,
as employers would deliberately choose men over women workers to avoid
payments. HREOC agrees that this issue is a significant concern, and
it is one of the grounds on which HREOC has recommended government funding
of a national scheme of paid maternity leave. [463]

Of course, there
is no doubt that a scheme of paid maternity leave would not by itself
address the range of workplace disadvantages faced by women as a result
of their caring responsibilities. It would be facile to argue that it
would. As one submission emphasised, "[f]ourteen weeks of paid
maternity leave will not bring gender equity to this country". [464] However, many submissions strongly argued that
paid maternity leave is an essential element of a social restructure
that would better recognise and value the contribution of women to reproducing
the next generation. [465]

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8.4
Conclusion

Women's ongoing
workplace disadvantage and the employment discrimination they experience
are directly linked to their primary role in childbirth and child-rearing.
HREOC considers that a commitment to equality requires positive steps
to create structural changes that would remedy entrenched discrimination.

In addition, paid
maternity leave would meet the objective of ensuring equality for women
by providing structural recognition of women's roles as employees and
mothers and by offsetting the disadvantage that stems from women's caring
responsibilities. This would be a positive step towards delivering equality
between men and women, and increasing women's ability to participate
in all aspects of community life.

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9.
Social benefits

9.1
Introduction

Fundamentally,
encouraging and providing assistance for parents to raise their children
benefits society. Paid maternity leave is a mechanism which addresses
this social need. To the extent that paid maternity leave directly assists
people to combine work and family responsibilities, it may also have
flow-on benefits for the fertility rate, community life and social cohesion.

A number of submissions
supported the introduction of a government funded paid maternity leave
scheme on the basis of the benefits of such a scheme for society. This
Chapter describes the social benefits of paid maternity leave as identified
in submissions and consultations.

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9.2
Valuing motherhood and children

A national scheme
of paid maternity leave can be seen as recognition by society and the
Government of the importance and value of motherhood and children. Society
not only benefits immediately from a next generation, its continuance
depends upon there being future citizens and economic producers. This
point was acknowledged in consultations.

Some of us like
the idea of children as the future but it is actually vital for all
kinds of reasons - economic future for country and standard of living
are just a few aspects of it. Children are the future. [466]

The United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF) considers that "… the healthy development
of children is crucial to the future well-being of any society". [467]

The Convention
on the Rights of the Child (CROC) recognises the importance of children
to society and emphasises the social responsibility for their wellbeing.
Australia is amongst the 191 nations that have ratified this Convention.
CROC establishes the human rights of children, and the role of Government
in supporting and promoting these rights. CROC recognises the primary
role of parents in raising children, and obliges Governments to support
parents in this role. [468]

The social significance
of maternity is also included in the Preamble to CEDAW as a foundation
of women's rights. The Convention refers to:

… the great
contribution of women to the welfare of the family and to the development
of society, so far not fully recognised, the social significance of
maternity and the role of both parents in the family and in the upbringing
of children, and aware that the role of women in procreation should
not be a basis for discrimination but that the upbringing of children
requires a sharing of responsibility between men and women and society
as a whole ... [469]

The importance
of motherhood and children was supported in submissions. One individual
noted that "… a society without children has devastating long
term consequences for us all". [470] The New
South Wales Working Women's Centre also submitted that:

… children
should be understood as a social asset as well an individual choice.
In order to achieve a socially sustainable business community, Australia
must recognise the economic and social importance of women's role
as the bearers of children as well as active members of the labour
market. [471]

An individual drew
attention to the community wide benefit of children, and that this meant
all in society should share in the costs of supporting children.

People who do
not want to fund paid maternity leave because they do not intend to
have children should be aware that they are depending on others to
provide the next generation of workers and taxpayers to support them
beyond their working years. [472]

Many submissions
highlighted the importance of women continuing to reproduce society
and argued that this role is currently undervalued in society. This
view was held particularly strongly by unions and women's organisations. [473] For example, the Women's Action Alliance considered
that:

[w]omen taking
time out [of the workforce] to care for their young children are not
applauded in any quarter. This career change is not seen as "work"
and remains invisible to the public eye and in Government documents. [474]

The Equal Opportunity
Commission Victoria also considered that " ... whilst children
and the role of parenting may be highly valued in society at an emotional
level, we have stalled when it comes to recognising this financially". [475]

Another individual
considered that paid maternity leave was an investment by the community
in families.

[Paid maternity
leave] will just make the whole experience less traumatic. If society
as a whole is comfortable with that then society as a whole needs
to work out a way to finance it. I don't think in the long run it's
as expensive as things like people getting divorced. I think it would
be a really good thing. It's an investment in families in helping
them through a great time of expense. [476]

HREOC agrees with
those submissions that argued that a maternity leave payment acknowledges
the social and economic benefits that society gains through women bearing
children. [477] A government funded paid maternity
leave scheme would, as Immigrant Women's Speakout pointed out, be "…
the mark of a society that cares for mothers and children". [478]

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9.3
Valuing the dual role of women in society

Today women are
an invaluable part of the Australian labour force. If available to women
in the workforce, paid maternity leave provides the social recognition
that many women perform a dual role, as employees and mothers. That
this dual role is currently undervalued was highlighted in a number
of the submissions. For example, the Women's Economic Think Tank commented
that:

... the lack
of any specific payments for the many women who take time off their
paid jobs to have children, exacerbates the perception that such decisions
are not recognised as legitimate and valued … this adds to the
belief that combining roles is not supported. [479]

Many submissions
considered that paid maternity leave can provide this recognition. A
group of academics submitted that:

[p]aid maternity
leave would be the only payment [made by government to benefit Australian
families] which recognises the dual responsibilities of baby and infant
care and employment attachment. [480]

The Australian
Industry Group considered that paid maternity leave would "…
demonstrate that the dual roles of working women as mothers and employees
is recognised and valued". [481]

Not only did submissions
regard paid maternity leave as social recognition of this dual role,
a number of submissions considered that paid maternity leave would assist
women practically to combine work and family responsibilities. For further
discussion of the ability of paid maternity leave to facilitate combining
work and family responsibilities see 7.5.

HREOC considers
that the absence of a nationally mandated system of paid maternity leave
suggests that the decision to have a child in Australia is predicated
upon choosing between having a child and having a paying job. The introduction
of paid maternity leave would recognise that society benefits from women's
workforce participation and also from their role as bearers of children.

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9.4
Cultural change in the workplace

Offering paid maternity
leave as a workplace entitlement may encourage a change in workplace
culture. Workforce structures and cultures need to change to accommodate
the different lives of women. This would promote equality and remove
systemic discrimination, to the benefit of women, their families and
society. For example, the Australian Capital Territory Ministerial Advisory
Council on Women suggested that we need:

… a cultural
shift that recognizes that attention to the psychological and social
needs of children is essential to the health of society, that young
children cannot be squeezed into the spare moments available at the
end of the day, and that children can benefit greatly from active
involvement with their parent/s and other significant adults. We need
to acknowledge the social and economic costs that may result for children
whose caring needs are not met, while continuing to recognize the
benefits to society of women in the workforce. Therefore, we need
to structure work arrangements, which encourage and enable all parents
to devote appropriate time and attention to children when they need
it. [482]

There is some anecdotal
evidence that resentment exists among male employees who do not have
access to paid maternity leave. [483] In particular,
some women working in male dominated industries stated that they avoid
taking paid maternity leave entitlements because of this resentment.

In recognising
that women perform a dual role in the paid workforce and as the bearers
and primary carers of children, paid maternity leave is an important
step in changing workplace culture. This was acknowledged in a number
of submissions, for example, the submission from the CSIRO Staff Association
pointed out that:

[i]n an industry
where time off work had been deemed to show lack of commitment to
science, women on paid maternity leave came to be accepted as still
serious about their work. [484]

At a consultation
with women's groups and community in Brisbane, the point was made that
"[p]aid maternity leave legitimises the right of women to move
in and out of the workforce. It keeps their careers on track." [485]

The experience
of workplaces that have introduced paid maternity leave supported this.
For example, the New South Wales EEO Practitioners' Association cited
AMP as expressing the view that:

… introducing
6 weeks paid parental leave for men and women simultaneously has had
a significant impact on our culture over time. It signalled serious
support (prepared to pay for it) and said men as well as women want
to create a balance. [486]

Very few submissions
disagreed that paid maternity leave would lead to workplace change.
Those that did however felt that paid maternity leave may actually create
a culture which is detrimental to the development of family friendly
workplaces. The Australian Family Association argued that "[a]n
'officially' recognised short absence from work may erroneously promote
a perception that having a child represents no more than a brief interruption
in a career". [487]

HREOC considers
that a government funded paid maternity leave scheme would provide a
strong signal to employers, workplaces and the community that supporting
parents to balance work and family is an important issue that requires
action. This may influence workplace cultures to strengthen the acceptance
by employers that employees should be supported in balancing work and
family. It may also mean that more women access existing family supports
and maternity leave entitlements.

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9.5
Fertility

9.5.1
Introduction

The ability of
paid maternity leave to affect fertility rates has become a focus of
the public debate that followed the launch of the interim paper. HREOC
is concerned about the fertility rate to the extent that it reflects
the difficulties women and their partners face in managing family responsibilities
under current social and employment structures.

9.5.2
Current trends in fertility

Like much of the
developed world, Australia's declining Total Fertility Rate of 1.73
births per woman in 2002 [488] has a range of implications
for Australian society. It is projected that fertility rates in advanced
industrialised countries, including Australia, will continue falling. [489]

Current estimates
are that 24 per cent of Australian women now in their childbearing years
will not have a baby. [490] Based on data from the
Australian Bureau of Statistics, [491] the National
Pay Equity Coalition extrapolated that by the year 2016 "couples
without children will outnumber couples with children", [492] and that the average age of first time mothers will be 31.2 years by
2008. [493]

Submissions acknowledged
that in Australia, as in other industrialised countries, current fertility
rates continue to decline as women give birth to fewer children and
at later stages in life. [494] As the South Australia
Liberal Women's Council noted, "… children are increasingly
seen as a non-option by young Australian women". [495]

HREOC's interim
paper argued that the declining birth rate is in part a result of the
financial, professional and social disadvantage encountered by families. [496] This was a view strongly reflected in the submissions.
One submission outlined factors it considered had led to the decline
in the fertility rate.

[A]lthough some
of this drop is due to a rise in physical fertility problems, much
of it is due to irreconcilable economic and social pressures on young
women to earn an income in preference to having children or because
women who have deferred having a child until they are financially
secure then find that it is too late physically. [497]

The Ethnic Communities'
Council of Victoria considered that "[t]he declining birthrate
reflects both the economic difficulties confronting women in their childbearing
years and the lack of support in our social structures for childbearing
and childrearing." [498]

Personal anecdotes
in submissions supported this view, highlighting that the decision to
have a child is a difficult one for many women to make. One individual
explained that "I would really like to have a child, but it is
really tricky to finance ... I have been saving money and holidays for
ages … it remains a mystery to me how people can afford to have
a second child". [499]

The interim paper
also identified delayed family formation as a consequence of extended
periods of education and training, which often last until young people
are well into their twenties. [500] Again, this was
reflected in some of the submissions received. [501]

9.5.3
The effects of declining fertility

Submissions from
unions, employers and individuals argued that today's declining fertility
rate is of national concern, and one that needs urgently to be addressed. [502]

The implications
of declining fertility for Australia's long term national sustainability
were identified in a number of submissions. One concern was the serious
social and economic problems caused when this declining rate is combined
with a rapidly ageing population. [503] As one individual
noted, "[we are n]ot even replacing ourselves … Australia
will have a problem in some 20 years funding the retirement of all the
baby boomers if the population does not grow". [504]

A related concern
was the resulting decline in the growth in Australia's labour force. [505] The Australian Industry Group argued that:

… labour
supply growth is expected to continue to decrease in Australia and
… this will act to constrain economic growth outcomes shaving
another 0.25% or more off annual GDP [Gross Domestic Product] growth
rates by the end of the decade. [506]

A number of submissions
also expressed concern that a declining fertility rate would have a
negative impact on industry [507] and lead to a reduced
base of young people to pay taxes and support the social welfare system. [508] The Victorian Government submission, for example,
argued that "… the declining birth rate and the aging of our
population … will over time lead to increased pressure on government
services and therefore the tax base." [509]

9.5.4
Paid maternity leave and the fertility rate

The level of fertility
in any community exists within and reflects a social and economic context.
It is affected by a range of factors. Just as no single policy measure
could be expected to control economic growth, so too, no single policy
measure will increase Australia's fertility rate to replacement level.

That is not to
say, however, that the actions of Governments cannot and do not affect
the family formation decisions of their citizens. [510] In this context, paid maternity leave can be expected to make a contribution
to Australia's fertility by making it easier for families who have decided
to have a child to do so. By providing financial assistance and support
to families, paid maternity leave goes some way to addressing financial
restrictions that discourage family formation. This was argued in a
number of submissions, in particular from individuals. For example,
Victorian Women Lawyers suggested that " ... financial assistance
can mean the potential parents who want to have a child are then able
to act on that decision as the financial barrier to having a child is
reduced". [511] Similarly, Coles Myer argued
that paid maternity leave:

… may enable
women to elect to commence a family earlier than they are currently
doing as they will not have to save up to compensate for the loss
of income to the extent of the value of the payment. [512]

The Women's Electoral
Lobby suggested that paid maternity leave would "… assist
women already planning to have children to have a first child earlier,
increasing the possibility of having a second child". [513] This was affirmed by an individual who wrote that:

[e]ven when a
woman manages to have children and return to the workforce, the lack
of paid maternity leave is a huge disincentive to have another child.
Like me, she has probably delayed having the first child until well
into her thirties and will need several years to recover financially
from the experience before considering another, at which point her
fertility, her own health and the baby's health would be at considerable
risk. Without paid maternity leave having one child is extremely difficult
… having more than one is well nigh impossible! [514]

The CSIRO Staff
Association observed that:

[d]ecisions about
when to start a family and how many children a woman will have are
very personal and not usually made by CSIRO employees primarily on
the basis of availability or length of paid maternity leave. However,
the availability of paid maternity leave has influenced these choices
and made it easier to proceed with a family when the decision is made. [515]

A recent study
assessing family friendly public policy in 21 OECD countries concluded
there were so many factors affecting fertility that any linkages between
fertility change and any one of these factors were likely to be weak. [516] The author, Francis Castles, identified a number
of factors that appear to affect fertility. These include women's changing
work and family preferences, changes to women's education levels, broader
social and cultural changes and the different family friendly public
policy schemes introduced across countries, of which paid maternity
leave may be only one. [517] While Castles did not
conclude that paid maternity leave had an effect on fertility rates,
it was always present in those countries which had, at some point, successfully
arrested declining fertility rates.

As decisions about
family formation are complex and affected by a number of factors, a
period of paid maternity leave alone will not repair Australia's falling
fertility rate. [518] Paid maternity leave would
need to be part of a suite of family friendly workplace policies if
it is to assist families to combine work and family and remove some
of the barriers to the decision to have a child. [519] This was acknowledged in a number of submissions. The Council for Equal
Opportunity in Employment, for example, argued that:

… introducing
[paid maternity leave] along with a range of other programs promoting
work/family/life flexibilities would provide a platform on which to
build an increase in the birth rate over time.

Such programs
were seen as strategically important in providing incentives for workers
with family responsibilities, both for children and aging family members,
to remain actively engaged in employment and contributing to the economy. [520]

While the majority
of submissions acknowledged the declining fertility rate as a national
concern, and some that paid maternity leave may assist in reversing
this trend, a number of other submissions argued that the provision
of paid maternity leave was unlikely to reverse Australia's declining
fertility rate.

I am not confident
that paid maternity leave will address the reduced fertility …
[HREOC's] interim paper states that "the lowest fertility levels
are recorded amongst women with higher attachment to the labour force,
higher income and greater educational attainment". I would assert
that these are the women who don't need paid maternity leave because
they either can afford to fund themselves or have chosen not to have
children. [521]

A number of submissions
discussed the need to look beyond paid maternity leave and family friendly
polices to the broader range of government policies and options available
if the declining fertility rate is to be addressed. [522]

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9.6
Conclusion

This paper has
argued that paid maternity leave contributes to the health and wellbeing
of mothers and babies, and addresses in part the disadvantage and inequality
that women experience in the workplace as a result of their role in
childbirth.

In addition to
these benefits that relate directly to individual women, HREOC also
considers that a national paid maternity leave scheme would provide
a range of social benefits to the community. Paid maternity leave would
acknowledge the benefit to the community of maternity and children.
It would also recognise the dual role that many women take on as the
bearers and carers of children as well as being active participants
in the labour force.

While HREOC considers
that addressing the declining fertility rate is not a primary objective
of a paid maternity leave scheme, the issue of fertility rates is an
important element in this discussion. It indicates that even those Australian
women and their partners who would like to have children are having
difficulty in successfully integrating their need for economic security
and career development with their desire for a family.

While much of the
decline in fertility may be the result of factors beyond the influence
of Governments, clearly there is still a role for Government to support
families wanting children, and to remove barriers to this decision where
possible. In particular, the declining fertility rate suggests that
public policy to date has insufficiently recognised and supported the
choices young women and their families wish to make. Australia's falling
fertility rate signals that a range of measures need to be introduced
to allow women to combine work and family as they decide. Paid maternity
leave is one such measure.

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10.
Benefits to employers and the economy

10.1
Introduction

To the extent that
paid maternity leave would enable women who decided to do so to maintain
their labour force attachment, [523] economic benefits
would flow to employers and society as a whole. These benefits include
the retention of a skilled and experienced workforce and the maintenance
of an acceptable dependency ratio to support an ageing population. This
Chapter considers the benefits of paid maternity leave to individual
employers, specific industries and the broader economy.

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10.2
Benefits to individual employers

Providing paid
maternity leave is one of the means adopted by best practice employers
to accommodate employees' work and family responsibilities. Individual
employers provide paid maternity leave because of the benefits they
gain in doing so. For some employers, there is a strong business case
argument for providing paid maternity leave. [524] This includes being recognised as an employer of choice, and being more
able to attract and retain skilled staff in a competitive labour market. [525]

If a female employee
leaves the workplace permanently after giving birth, she takes with
her valuable knowledge, skills and experience. This loss is considerable
in a country where women make up almost half of the labour force. [526] In addition, since the age at which women in Australia most commonly
give birth today is between 30-34 years, [527] many
women are leaving workplaces with at least ten years experience and
expertise.

By increasing the
labour force attachment of women with children, paid maternity leave
benefits employers by reducing staff turnover costs. These costs include
the direct costs of recruitment and retraining new staff as well as
loss of productivity. [528]

As the Public Service
Association of South Australia noted:

[i]n most situations,
there are advantages for both employers and workers to form and maintain
a continuing long term attachment, in order to defend their investments
in firm specific training. There is invariably some specific skill
acquisition associated with a job, even if the training appears general.
In these cases, measures which encourage ongoing employment relationships
will be consistent with the financial objectives of the firm ... [529]

A number of submissions
attempted to estimate the cost of losing an employee. For example, the
Victorian Women Lawyers asserted that on 1998 estimates "[the]
cost of replacing a fourth year lawyer ranged from $61,400 for a small
firm, $71,600 for a medium firm to $145,000 for a large firm". [530]

A number of submissions
also argued that the cost of these losses was greater than the cost
of providing paid maternity leave. The National Pay Equity Coalition
pointed out that "[t]he cost of losing an employee can be around
a year's salary while paid maternity leave of 14 weeks costs just over
a quarter of a year's pay (26.9%)". [531]

Some submissions
considered that reducing financial pressure on women to remain in employment
as close to the birth as possible and to return to work before they
had physically recovered from giving birth would also have benefits
for business. At the consultation held with employers in Adelaide, concern
was expressed that "[e]conomically, often families can't afford
not to have the woman working right up to the birth and this is a health
risk". [532] Some of the employers present believed
that there was a strong occupational health and safety argument for
offering paid maternity leave. [533] As one employer
put it "[p]aid maternity leave would help, because women can leave
[the workplace] when they need to". [534]

The Australian
Manufacturing Workers' Union Vehicle Division confirmed these health
concerns for some women from an employee's perspective.

Production work
is physically demanding and often dangerous. Anecdotal evidence suggests
that the majority of mothers need to leave work earlier and return
later in comparison to white collar workers. But, the lower wages
of production workers also mean that most mothers in our industry
are forced to return to work earlier than they would like. The six
week paid maternity leave [current industry standard] is inadequate
and undermines family/work balance and also the health of the worker.
For these reasons the AMWU [Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union]
Vehicle Division strongly advocates a minimum of 14 weeks paid maternity
leave. [535]

The Australian
Retailers' Association considered that:

... any scheme
designed to ensure optimum health of mothers and their infants and
to support families at this important time of their lives will have
a benefit to employers by ensuring that women have had sufficient
opportunity to recover from the birth and are better prepared for
their return to work. [536]

A further benefit
of paid maternity leave for employers was noted in the submission received
from the Law Institute of Victoria. They suggested that increased sick
leave may be used by employees who return to work too early after giving
birth due to financial pressures. [537] A period
of paid maternity leave would allow women time to recover from childbirth,
without having to return to work due to these pressures. This potentially
reduces this use of sick leave and the related cost for employers.

However, not all
employers recognise the business case for paid maternity leave and for
others, particularly small business and those on narrow profit margins,
paid maternity leave may not be sufficiently affordable to justify the
benefits. As a result, our current system of employer provided paid
maternity leave means that many women in low paid jobs, or those employed
in small businesses miss out on paid maternity leave. [538]

A government funded
scheme of paid maternity leave could go some way towards addressing
these issues of workplace equity by extending paid maternity leave more
evenly across the labour force. [539]

A number of submissions
considered that a government funded paid maternity leave scheme, independent
of any employer funded paid maternity leave, may continue to benefit
employers. [540] In addition, a government funded
national paid maternity leave scheme could be structured in such a way
as to allow or encourage individual employers to provide a top up. [541] For example, employers may be able to provide a top up on a government
funded scheme by extending the government payment to full income replacement
levels. Alternatively they may extend the number of weeks for which
it is paid, or provide other measures during the initial period of leave. [542] This would enable them to retain the benefits
of being an employer of choice.

A government funded
scheme of paid maternity leave may also benefit employers by enabling
them to focus on other family friendly provisions. As noted in a majority
of submissions, while paid maternity leave may provide an incentive
for women to return to their employers, it remains a limited incentive
if not implemented as part of a suite of family friendly measures.

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10.3
Benefits to specific industries

A number of industry
specific submissions highlighted the specific need for, and benefits
of, paid maternity leave to their industry.

According to the
Law Institute of Victoria for example, paid maternity leave will facilitate
the retention within the legal profession of highly trained female lawyers. [543] Studies suggest that this is important for
the legal profession as they fail to retain women beyond their fifth
year of practice. This was reinforced in the Victorian Women Lawyer's
recent report, Flexible Partnership - Making it work in law firms.

[The introduction
of flexible work practices including paid maternity leave] resulted
in almost irreplaceable knowledge, experience and client relationships
being kept within the firm while simultaneously fostering a strong
sense of loyalty and motivation among those staff members … [This
meant a reduction in] the cost to the firm of replacing the lawyer,
the loss of investment … and the cost to other practitioners
in having to cover for their departed colleague. [544]

Female dominated
industries suffering critical staff shortages also identified the provision
of paid maternity leave as beneficial in assisting them to attract and
retain female staff.

The Education
Industry is suffering from a worldwide shortage of teachers. Retention
and recruitment of teachers to the profession is becoming increasingly
difficult in the present economic environment … schemes such
as paid maternity leave which enhance workers entitlements can only
benefit an industry which is predominantly female. [545]

Paid maternity
leave was also noted as useful in assisting with the attraction and
retention of skilled nurses. [546]

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10.4
Economic benefits to the broader economy

10.4.1
Introduction

It was commonly
argued in the submissions that paid maternity leave benefits individual
employers and contributes to sustaining a dynamic, prosperous economy. [547] In fact, very few submissions argued that paid
maternity leave would not contribute to Australia's economy. [548]

Submissions pointed
out that benefits may flow from employers to the broader economy, and
back again.

Society gains
the benefit of a productive member of the workforce rather than just
the employer for whom the woman works ... Benefits may flow to the
immediate employers at the time that the carer of the child returns
to work, but benefits also flow to future employers ... [549]

The National Pay
Equity Coalition argued that paid maternity leave:

… will yield
benefits to the overall economy. The overall greater use of the economic
resources of the country - including women's labour - will produce
greater economic activity relative to social and economic infrastructure.
Households with two incomes produce more for the same investment in
transport, housing, services etc. Higher household incomes drive increased
consumption providing markets for more household and other services,
including childcare. Higher household incomes produce increased capacity
to pay tax. [550]

10.4.2
Maintaining a high quality and competitive labour force

Many of the benefits
of paid maternity leave to the individual employer stem from the ability
of such leave to assist women's labour force attachment. A number of
submissions identified the shared economic benefits of the continued
labour force participation of women following childbirth. [551] For example, the Australian Council of Trade Unions submitted that "[w]omen's
employment and the retention of skills will contribute to economic growth,
productivity and improved living standards". [552]

If Australia is
to continue to develop and maintain an internationally competitive workforce,
it must ensure that women are not discouraged from maintaining workforce
attachment. This was recognised in a number of submissions. The Council
for Equal Opportunity in Employment for example, pointed out that:

… the entire
potential labour pool, including women and men with young children
have skills and abilities which are needed by Australia in an increasingly
competitive global market. [553]

The Victorian Government
pointed out that women participate in the labour market for a variety
of reasons, "… and the Australian economy, if it is to be
internationally competitive, needs well educated, well trained, skilled
and experienced women in the workforce. The commercial success of many
companies is inextricably linked to the recruitment and retention of
well trained women." [554]

Many submissions
considered that paid maternity leave contributes to the maintenance
of a high quality labour force. The Australian Nursing Federation submitted
that:

[p]aid maternity
leave will facilitate the opportunities for women to remain in the
workforce and in so doing, will promote the retention of skills, experience
and expertise within the workforce. [555]

At the consultation
with union representatives in Perth, participants highlighted a trend
for some highly skilled women to return to the workforce after childbirth
into casual, low skilled work. [556] A number of
submissions acknowledged the role of paid maternity leave in dealing
with this issue.

[Paid maternity
leave ensures] a skilled workforce as women can return to their jobs
at the end of their maternity leave rather than having to take up casual
work until they can find suitable permanent work ... [557]

10.4.3
Attracting skilled labour

Not only is it
increasingly important for Australia to maintain its best possible labour
force, but countries also compete to attract skilled workers. With high
levels of education, training, work experience and mobility young men
and women are an increasingly valuable commodity.

Failing to provide
paid maternity leave affects Australia's ability to attract overseas
employees and to retain its own young skilled population. Anecdotal
evidence from the submissions supports this.

I arrived as
a permanent resident visa holder in Australia eight years ago from
the Netherlands, where I was educated and gained work experience in
several European countries … when people ask me why I have never
become an Australian citizen, I have pointed out in the past that
as a woman my social support, education and employability overseas
would be at risk if I did. Even more vividly so now we are contemplating
a second child my family and I would be better off if we moved back
to Europe. I could continue to work, receive paid maternity leave
entitlements and earn a higher wage. Like myself, other higher skilled
employed permanent resident women will most likely take this option
into account. [558]

10.4.4
Maximising the return on education and training

Australia's investment
in women's skill formation is significant. [559] During 2000, $4.16 billion was invested in public vocational education
and training. [560] In 2000, women made up almost
half (49.2 per cent) of the 1.75 million students in the public Vocational
Education and Training sector [561] and 57.9 per
cent of all bachelor degree commencements. [562]

One woman told
HREOC that she considered her six years of tertiary education was "
... almost going to have been a bit of a waste ... " [563] because of the difficulty of combining work and having children. She
considered that she was faced with delaying childbirth for five to six
years until her position in the workforce was more secure, or retraining
in order to re-enter the workforce.

Maintaining female
labour force attachment after the birth of a child ensures that the
return on the community's investment in women's education and training
is maximised. The role of paid maternity leave in assisting female labour
force attachment and therefore returns on the community investment in
the education and training of women was also recognised in a number
of submissions. [564]

Taxpayers invest
heavily in the education and training of educators and attrition of
a highly skilled workforce such as this is a major problem. [565]

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10.5
Conclusion

As noted earlier,
HREOC considers that the principal reasons for introducing paid maternity
leave relate to women's and babies health and wellbeing, addressing
women's workplace disadvantage and ensuring women's equal participation
in the community. These objectives provide clear and direct benefits
to women, children and families as well as significant social benefits
to the community.

To the extent that
paid maternity leave helps women to be better able to combine paid work
and family, and assists women to maintain their attachment to the labour
force, paid maternity leave will also benefit employers and the economy.
Employers will see a greater return on their investment in recruitment
and training of staff and a reduction in staff turnover costs. The economy
will benefit through the attraction and maintenance of a highly skilled
and competitive workforce, and through maximising the community investment
in education and training.

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11.
Outstanding issues

11.1
Introduction

The establishment
of a national paid maternity leave scheme is one step towards meeting
the objectives outlined in this paper. However, no single policy change
will resolve the conflict between work and family responsibilities.
While paid maternity leave will make a difference to the lives of individual
women, many submissions made the point that paid maternity leave on
its own
is insufficient in addressing the issues that result in
the disadvantage experienced by women as a group in Australia today. [566] In particular, feedback from submissions and
consultations stressed the need for further legal and policy change
on work and family issues, alongside a future paid maternity leave scheme.

Wherever appropriate,
this paper has considered the work, family and other issues related
to paid maternity leave. However, some of the issues raised in submissions
and consultations are beyond the scope of this paper. This does not
mean that issues such as access to childcare, education or flexible
work are not important. In recognition of the need for further work
on these issues, this Chapter outlines some of the major concerns raised
in submissions that are not directly about paid maternity leave. It
is important that paid maternity leave not be seen as a panacea for
all work and family issues. HREOC recognises that further work is needed
to meet all of the objectives outlined in this paper.

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11.2
Paid maternity leave as one of a "suite of measures"

Consultations and
submissions made it clear that paid maternity leave is viewed, even
by its strongest proponents, as only one aspect of the complex issues
surrounding work and family. Many submissions referred to paid maternity
leave in the context of social issues ranging from the status of women
in society to the role of the family. For example, some individuals
and organisations viewed paid maternity leave as integral to the broader
issue of supporting families as units of society.

Paid Maternity
Leave is only one aspect of an extremely complex social issue, which
requires careful consideration of the totality and interdependence
of issues and measures that may be necessary to achieve these objectives.
That is, the discussion should move beyond the parameters of Paid
Maternity Leave and employees to a comprehensive examination
of the current and future measures necessary for families to
be supported. [567]

For others, the
context for paid maternity leave is the range of experiences working
women face as mothers.

[A] holistic
approach is needed for working women in respect to pregnancy, maternity
leave and return to work. [568]

Paid maternity
leave can also be seen as part of broader social issues such as workplace
participation, education, childcare and population policy.

The whole maternity
leave "argument" cannot easily be divorced from the role
of child-care and early education in general
. [569]

Employer groups,
unions, parents and academics all urged HREOC to consider paid maternity
leave in the context of these broader social issues.

For some, the insufficiency
of paid maternity leave as a complete solution to a complex set of issues
was a reason not to support it. The Victorian Automobile Chamber of
Commerce submitted that they did not support a paid maternity leave
scheme because:

… a range
of initiatives may be necessary to assist women and families in all
socio-economic groups when combining motherhood with workplace participation.
Paid maternity leave, in our view, is a narrow response to a complex
and urgent problem. [570]

However, most submissions
raised the complex social context of paid maternity leave in order to
support further complementary measures in addition to paid leave.
Australian Business Industrial stated that:

[m]aternity leave
can only be considered as one of a suite of measures to enable a work-family
balance. Consideration needs to be given to other areas of the social
security and taxation system framework in order to assist employers
in continuing to help their employees in this way. [This is in] addition
to the provision of a paid maternity benefit that is sufficient to
enable working women to take time away from paid work to have children. [571]

The Women's Council
of the Liberal Party of Australia (South Australia Division) wrote:

… we believe
that the Government should include paid parental leave in a "mix"
of policy options for families with young children to assist them
to meet their work and family commitments. [572]

The BPW Australia's
submission similarly argued for a long-term view and consideration of
other policy changes.

PML [paid maternity
leave] needs to be a part of a long-term plan for supporting Australians
to balance their work and family commitments. Other aspects need to
be considered simultaneously - affordable childcare, flexible work
arrangements when mothers return to work and a tax system that treats
the family as a unit and recognises the variety of forms that families
take. [573]

HREOC agrees with
the submissions emphasising both the complexity of issues surrounding
paid maternity leave and stressing the need for further action complementing
any future paid maternity leave scheme. Paid maternity leave is one
of a suite of measures that need to be considered to give full meaning
to the objectives outlined in this paper. There is no doubt that there
is further work to do in this area, and some submissions and consultations
point to valuable areas of future inquiry.

The many suggestions
for further work raised in submissions relate to:

  • changing attitudes
    to men's and women's work;
  • developing family
    friendly workplaces;
  • childcare; and
  • return to work
    issues.

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11.3
"Men's work" and "women's work"

11.3.1
Introduction

Paid maternity
leave relates to the social and personal balance of work and family
responsibilities. Several submissions made the point that paid maternity
leave on its own is insufficient if underlying stereotypes of "women's
work" and "men's work" are not challenged.

Several submissions
pointed out the need to change current ideas of gender roles and the
limited and limiting understanding of what men and women do at work
and in the family if broader work and family issues were to be solved.

11.3.2
Valuing motherhood and women's unpaid work

The general low
status of motherhood was singled out for criticism, for undermining
the importance of families and children in Australian society and for
contributing to Australia's declining birth rate. [574]

[A]nother important
issue is the value and status accorded to mothering, particularly
full time mothering. Women taking time out to care for their young
children are not applauded in any quarter. This career change is not
seen as "work" and remains invisible to the public eye and
in Government documents. If we value children and what is best for
them, giving families financial assistance and reinstating
mothering as a job worth doing must be the two pronged approach of
any attempt to seriously address our declining birth rate. [575]

Similarly, one
mother wrote that the low status of parenting and negative attitudes
to children were reasons that men and women were choosing not to become
parents.

The lack of respect
for mothers and the lack of importance given to parenthood and the
emphasis on parental acquisition are also driving forces in the choice
to postpone or not have children. Many people view children as a nuisance,
inconvenience, or "parasites", both in utero and
after birth. [576]

The failure to
recognise adequately the amount of work that women do, without remuneration,
in caring for children, was another point highlighted in submissions.
This raises fundamental questions of how work is valued and whether
the domestic work performed by women is a "natural" extension
of their biological and social role as mothers which should be performed
on the basis of affective ties rather than for financial reward.

Those submissions
that challenged the traditional view that women's domestic and caring
work should be unpaid, suggested ways of compensating women for their
labour. One women's group argued for benefits to women at home that
would formally recognise women's labour.

[W]hile a revolution
has occurred in the public realm in terms of women's entrance and
participation in the mainstream economy and labour market, a corresponding
revolution has not taken place in the home. Our labour is unrecognised,
unpaid and unvalued. We would like to see provision made to women
who were not already in the workforce (increasingly women are still
training and studying into their 30s) through a 26 week maternal endowment. [577]

Another submission
pointed out the fundamental reliance of the public world of paid work
on the unpaid, "private" work carried out by women, and suggested
a number of measures to remedy the imbalance.

The market still
lives as a parasite on the unpaid work carried out in homes, predominantly
by women. Distortion in what is treated as economic activity results
in distortion of distribution of economic resources.

…..
We need to find ways to allocate a fair share of economic resources
to people undertaking caring work. This could include a range of strategies
including decent wages for childcare and personal care workers, drawing
more caring work into the market as paid work, providing more services
to people undertaking caring work to provide breaks, education, training
and respite, and providing generous family allowances, not means-tested
on income. [578]

One suggestion
for valuing women's unpaid labour was for some form of remuneration
or "allowance" to be paid to women who accept primary responsibility
for work in the home and who do not undertake paid employment. The Australian
Family Association, the Festival of Light and the Endeavour Forum all
raised the idea that women should be remunerated for their work in the
home. [579]

HREOC agrees that
paid maternity leave does not solve the fundamental issue of women's
disproportionate responsibility for unpaid work. As long as caring work
remains unpaid, women are more vulnerable to poverty and social disadvantage.
Without necessarily being in support of direct financial remuneration
for caring work or other work performed in the home, HREOC supports
further consideration of this issue. Ways of increasing the status of
women who choose work other than in paid employment should also be explored.

See also 9.2 and
14.4.3.

11.3.3
Men's work and paternity leave

A counterbalance
to the undervaluing of women's work as mothers and homemakers is the
pressure placed on men to focus on paid work at the expense of their
participation in family life. Submissions referred to the inadequate
concept of a "father" as primarily a "worker" in
the public sphere, a person who works long hours and does not have the
time to care for children and the home.

Research has shown
that:

[p]roblems with
juggling work and family was a major issue for all the men in the
study. All the men would have liked to have had more leave from work
and they all would have liked to make some changes in their patterns
of work. Various kinds of paid leave and restructured working hours
provide an incentive for women and men to participate more equally
at work and at home. The men in this study claimed that they would
avail themselves of such provisions if they were available in Australia. [580]

The narrowness
of men's working lives was described as destructive to women as well
as men.

We need to face
up to the fact that fathers' long hours of work are damaging mothers.
Mothers suffer physically from overwork and lack of sleep. They suffer
mentally and emotionally from lack of breaks, from isolation and excessive
unshared responsibility for children and housework. Relationships
suffer because women feel abused by the conditions of their work as
mothers. [581]

Men's working patterns
also impact on women because men often depend on the unpaid support
of women at home. For women in paid employment, who often do not have
access to such unpaid support, being a successful employee and a mother
is simply too hard.

It is clear that
women are limiting their families because the category of "worker"
remains a male construct, and, as so many women have discovered, relies
on the unpaid and unacknowledged labour of a "wife" to maintain
the domestic realm. [582]

Men's restricted
caring role within the family led some submissions to call for paid
paternity leave as well as maternity leave.

We need to enable
fathers as well as mothers to take time out from employment or limit
working hours without economic or career penalty. If we want men to
participate equally in caring work, we need paternity leave, to be
taken simultaneously with maternity leave. Perhaps fathers could have
six weeks' paid paternity leave for the express purpose of caring
for mother and baby, followed by half-time leave for a further ten
weeks. It may be necessary to provide guidance to encourage fathers
to perform and gain skills in household work and childcare, since
this expectation runs counter to the practices of some sections of
the community. [583]

The importance
to men of paid work, and sometimes financial necessity, means that they
may be unprepared to take even quite short periods away from the workplace
to be with their families unless they have paid entitlements.

In order to maintain
the family's income, men are more likely to be prepared to take leave
if they can do so on full pay and so it is more usual for them to
use other forms of leave such as annual leave and long service leave. [584]

HREOC agrees that
men's patterns of working, paternity leave and encouraging men to access
leave provisions are all important areas of future study.

See also 4.3, 14.2.4
and the discussion of long hours at 11.4.3.

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11.4
Developing family friendly workplaces

11.4.1
Introduction

Paid maternity
leave invites a broader discussion of other workplace benefits or arrangements
that support employees with families. Many submissions directly referred
to the importance of family friendly workplaces and flexible employment
arrangements as crucial accompaniments to a future paid maternity leave
scheme. Without such additional measures, it was argued, paid maternity
leave is only of short term benefit.

UMPA [University
of Melbourne Postgraduate Association] would suggest that no matter
which paid maternity scheme is implemented in Australia there are
still gaps in the workplace and barriers that need to be overcome.
Having paid maternity leave would assist women and parents in the
first year of their child's life but it is also in the subsequent
years that women require support systemically. There still needs to
be a considerable culture change in workplaces - even at universities
- before equity for parents would be achieved. [585]

More than a hundred
submissions referred to the need for legal and policy change within
workplaces to make work more flexible and family friendly.

The emphasis in
this section is on the role of employers in assisting and supporting
employees with families. However, this paper also considers, at 11.4.4,
the need for comprehensive research into work and family issues to assist
the development of future policies.

11.4.2
Flexible work arrangements

There is growing
acknowledgement by all participants in the work and family debate that
flexibility is a key characteristic of a workplace that attracts and
retains male and female employees with family responsibilities. Submissions
and consultations particularly emphasised the need for part time working
arrangements and opportunities to job share, flexible hours and flexible
leave arrangements.

Arrangements for
telecommuting and other home based work, family friendly rostering arrangements,
prenatal leave to attend medical appointments [586] and breastfeeding facilities were also raised as issues requiring further
consideration. Return to work issues, including the right to return
to work, extended maternity leave, expanded access to family leave and
part time work are discussed at 11.5.

Suggestions for
flexible work practices came from employers, unions, community groups
and individuals. For example, the Australian Industry Group wrote that:

[a]lready, a
range of measures have begun to emerge at individual workplaces, often
as part of the enterprise bargaining process. These include flexible
working time arrangements, permanent part-time arrangements, job-sharing,
teleworking and employer assistance with child-care. This trend will
likely to continue in the future and such measures would complement
the introduction of a government funded paid maternity leave scheme. [587]

The Australian
Nursing Federation stated that it:

… strongly
endorses the view expressed in [HREOC's] Interim Paper that paid maternity
leave should be seen as one of a range of measures required to address
workplace equity and employment issues. A broader approach is needed
to direct attention to other issues such as access to affordable high
quality child care; family leave; flexibility for employees within
the workplace; rostering arrangements that support an acceptable work/life
balance; greater use of part-time and job share options and other
family friendly provisions. [588]

The Union of Australian
Women:

… strongly
believes that, for a paid maternity leave scheme to be effective,
it must be supported by improved access to affordable, quality child
care, and genuinely flexible working hours and conditions that make
provision for parental responsibilities. [589]

HREOC agrees that
there is a great deal more work to do on developing flexible workplaces.
As the Australian Industry Group stated, there have been many improvements
in this area in recent years, and many workplaces have developed practical
working arrangements and benefits that allow their employees to function
effectively as paid workers and as parents. However, these benefits
are not universal and some employees in particular industries and workplaces
have no real access to flexible working arrangements. This is an important
area for ongoing and definitive inquiry.

11.4.3
Family friendly working hours

Paid maternity
leave, along with other family friendly measures, may not make a meaningful
difference to families if other working conditions make it difficult
to access such leave. For some organisations and individuals, the pressure
to work long hours offsets the provision of benefits to employees with
family responsibilities. The Financial Services Union wrote that:

… a recent
study of the impact of work/family provisions in the finance sector
found that the existence of such provisions is not enough. Employees
in the sector are now working such excessive hours, that they are
often unable to take advantage of these provisions … The pre-natal
period of work, pregnancy and return to work are all affected. [590]

Suggestions were
put to HREOC that the federal Government should do more to encourage
permanent part time work and job sharing for Australian employees, in
order to encourage reasonable working hours.

[T]he government
should stop promoting unrealistic worker hours, or at least promote
job sharing. [591]

The Women's Council
of the Liberal Party of Australia (South Australia Division) also wrote
that:

[a]t present
many Australian workers are forced to work longer hours than they
would choose or that they are paid for and we are concerned about
the loss of momentum to encourage permanent part time work for parents
in the work force with young children. [592]

The Australian
Council of Trade Unions recently ran a test case in the Australian Industrial
Relations Commission, seeking to establish guidelines on excessive hours
of work. In response to this claim, employer groups such as the Australian
Chamber of Commerce and Industry argued that employees were not working
excessive hours, that when long hours were worked they were adequately
compensated and that negotiated workplace agreements are the best way
of establishing appropriate working hours. [593]

The Full Bench
rejected the Australian Council of Trade Unions' claim for a test case
standard in the terms sought by it, but awarded a test case provision
of a more limited kind. [594] The standard allows
an employee to refuse to work overtime where it would result in the
employee working unreasonable hours. One of the factors in determining
unreasonableness is the employee's personal circumstances, including
any family responsibilities. In setting the standard, the Australian
Industrial Relations Commission recognised that long hours are not conducive
to family life. The test case outcome was welcomed by both the federal
Government and the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. [595]

Attention has also
been given to the issue of reasonable hours as part of the broader social
debate on balancing work and family responsibilities. A recent survey
by a recruitment agency has found a quarter of Australian workers believe
current working hours are undermining family life. The survey, which
questioned employees in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Singapore
found that 25 per cent of Australian employees believed current working
hours were undermining family life "a great deal" or to "some
extent". It also found almost 40 per cent of those surveyed were
working more than 40 hours per week. [596]

The attention given
to this issue is important and HREOC supports the work that has already
been done, as well as encouraging future work on reasonable hours. Depending
on trends in working hours in the years following the Reasonable Hours
decision, further steps may be necessary, perhaps by more closely defining
reasonable hours of work or mandating limits.

11.4.4
Further research on work and family issues

It is only recently
in Australia that there has been broad recognition of the need to address
work and family issues. As such, there is need for further research
on these issues in order to assess and draw conclusions about the impact
of various family friendly policies. As noted in the submission from
the Centre for Applied Social Research:

[r]esearch into
work and family balance is burgeoning, but it remains hamstrung by
problems of patchy, overly aggregated and sometimes inconsistent data.
This not only makes for ill-informed public and political debates
but also makes it difficult to measure the impact of policies such
as the provision of paid maternity leave. We endorse the call from
HREOC for further research in this area [HREOC interim paper]. We
need for example to undertake the collection of data and research
into the impact of both paid and unpaid maternity leave on choices
to return to work, on what women do in the absence of paid maternity
leave and also on the consequences for pay inequality over the life
course. [597]

The Australian
Retailers Association argued in its submission that the current lack
of research in this area also makes it difficult to address the work
and family related issues.

With the continuing
increase of women's participation in the workforce [ABS 6203.0 Labour
Force
August 2001, p16] ARA believes that the need for research,
going beyond the time of birth to include the first 5 years of the
child's life, is imperative. Data is required to gain an understanding
of what support the community as a whole should be providing, financial
or otherwise, to assist in the development of a system that supports
the raising of well educated and healthy children in our community
for the future of our community, in a way that does not discriminate
against or disadvantage those who do so and in a way that recognises
the changed circumstances of families in society today. [598]

That the lack of
statistical data affects the ability to debate work and family issues
was argued by the Women's Action Alliance.

We agree with
the observation in the preface [to HREOC's interim paper] that the
"lack of current statistical information about maternity, family
responsibilities and work arrangements" is hampering the debate
and concur that "Future research in this area is vitally important" [599]

Clearly there are
advantages in undertaking further research in the area, as noted by
the Hawke Institute.

[T]here is the
need for greater research in this area. Australia should be able to
draw upon and learn from international best practice. Research that
increases our understanding of the factors which influence reproductive
rates and choices, and the nexus between family and paid work responsibilities
is crucial for the development of effective and efficient policies. [600]

HREOC agrees that
there is a need for further research in this area, but considers that
it is beyond the scope of this paper to identify the exact elements
of research and data collection that are required. HREOC urges the Government
to review data collections and research in this area, in conjunction
with relevant stakeholders, in order to identify gaps and areas for
future work. However, this research should not hinder the introduction
of a national scheme of paid maternity leave.

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11.5
Return to work issues

11.5.1
Introduction

Return to work
issues were also singled out for particular attention in submissions
and consultations. These issues include the right to return to work
full time or part time, extended maternity leave and expanded access
to family leave.

11.5.2
Right to return to full time or part time work

Despite the fact
that women with access to unpaid maternity leave have a right to return
to work after that leave, [601] consultations and
submissions made it clear that some women did not know of this right,
did not insist upon it or were encouraged not to access it. For example,
some women leave work rather than experience the "guilt" of
inconveniencing their employer.

[W]omen feel
that it will be an imposition on the employer to keep the job open,
so rather than make a fuss they will go. They know that the small
employer can't manage it, and they don't know that they can have a
job held open - but there are those who think that's a bit unreasonable
anyway. [602]

Even where women
do return to work, they are not always reinstated in their former position,
or they struggle to continue to work full time, sometimes resigning
because they cannot access part time work.

All too often,
the IEU [Independent Education Union] has had to protect its members
in situations where they have been told to return to work full time
after maternity leave or resign or that part-time work was incompatible
with holding a promotions position. [603]

Under the Workplace
Relations Act 1996 (Cth), awards and agreements, a woman is entitled
to return to the position she held prior to taking maternity leave or
to a comparable available position if her original job has ceased to
exist. The Sex Discrimination Act may also apply where a woman is disadvantaged
when offered an alternative position on her return from leave.

Some awards and
agreements also allow for women to work part time after maternity leave
by agreement with the employer. If an employer refuses a reasonable
request for part time work, a woman may be able to argue that a failure
to provide her with such work is unlawful under the Sex Discrimination
Act. [604] There has been some case law in this area
that gives direction on when a woman's treatment on return to work will
be unlawful [605] but this area of law needs further
clarification.

Some submissions
from employee representatives called for legislative clarification of
a right to return to part time work.

Without a legislative,
award or enterprise agreement providing rights for primary care givers
to return to work on a part time or flexible hours basis, families
are forced to combine full time work with parenting young children.
This can lead to increased pressures on young families trying to juggle
work and family commitment, as well as increased pressure to provide
affordable and suitable child-care.

….
The ASU [Australian Services Union] MEU/Private Sector Victorian Branch
submit that returning to work part time from parental leave should
be a legislative right at the election of the parent. [606]

HREOC supports
consideration of legislative amendments to industrial and discrimination
legislation to clarify when employees are entitled to return to part
time work. For example, the United Kingdom has introduced legislation
that requires employers to give reasonable consideration to a request
for part time work by employees who are parents of young or disabled
children. From April 2003, parents of children under six years of age
or of disabled children aged under 18 years will have the right to apply
for flexible work. Employers will have a statutory duty to consider
a request for a change to an employee's working hours, a change to the
times an employee is required to work or a request by an employee to
work from home. [607]

There is also a
convincing argument that further education is needed to inform employees
and employers of women's right to return to work after a period of unpaid
maternity leave.

11.5.3
Extended maternity leave and family leave

Some submissions
called for a right to extended unpaid maternity leave beyond the current
one year limit.

Whilst recognising
the need for some predictability re return to work to meet employer
needs, we also believe in supporting mothers who wish to spend longer
periods of time out of the paid workforce to care for their children
... [608]

The Shop, Distributive
and Allied Employees' Association recommends extended unpaid leave of
up to three years. [609] Coles Supermarkets provides
18 months unpaid parental leave to employees who have had 12 months
continuous service. [610] Other submissions suggested
a right to access other leave, such as accrued long service leave in
order to expand a period of paid maternity leave. [611]

Some submissions
also suggested an expansion of access to family leave following return
to work. For example, the Australian Education Union supported a right
to access up to ten years leave for family responsibilities, [612] and another union recommended a right for women to have:

… greater
access to periods of unpaid maternity leave and for either parent
to be entitled to access unpaid family leave in blocks of time up
to the time their child is 6 years of age. [613]

The Australian
Council of Trade Unions has announced its intention to run a Work and
Family Test Case in the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in
2003, seeking up to three years unpaid maternity leave and more family
friendly working hours for all employees. [614]

HREOC considers
that these suggestions may have some merit but that they need detailed
examination in consultation with employers and other stakeholders. HREOC
recommends further work in this area.

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11.6
Childcare

11.6.1
Introduction

Childcare was one
of the issues raised most often in submissions and consultations. [615] Submissions referred to adequate childcare as essential to supporting
women's place in the paid workforce and ending employment discrimination.
The Australian Retailers Association, which represents a female dominated
industry stated that:

[c]onsideration
should be given to the area of childcare and the restructuring of
existing payment schemes in light of women's role as an integral part
of today's workforce. [616]

EMILY's List stated
that "… good quality, affordable child care - both pre school
and school age care is a must to ensure an end to systemic discrimination
in the workplace". [617]

Mothers of In(ter)vention
demanded that the federal Government:

… reverse
its cuts to community-based childcare, that it properly remunerate
childcare workers, and that it introduce measures to build childcare
into women's and men's workplaces. A range of diverse forms of childcare
should be available to meet the very personal and varied requirements
of families, in terms of religion and other factors. [618]

For the majority
of stakeholders in the paid maternity leave debate, childcare was seen
as a crucial area of concern to be considered alongside paid
maternity leave. The Australian Industry Group wrote that:

[i]n addition
to paid maternity leave, the Government should examine other support
measures such as further child-care assistance. Child-care costs remain
a major barrier to women returning to employment after having children.
Areas that should be further examined include taxation arrangements
as they relate to child-care costs incurred by employees, together
with further incentives for employers to assist employees with child
care costs. [619]

However, the Motor
Traders' Association of New South Wales saw childcare as the crucial
issue in the work and family debate, and argued that it should take
precedence over paid maternity leave.

Women need wider
options when balancing work and family commitments. Providing paid
maternity leave does not increase their options. It would result in
a small benefit for a short period of time without looking at issues
which need long term solutions in terms of providing real benefits
to women. The issue of child care is immensely important, especially
for families that rely on a dual income. As government financial support
for child care has reduced over the years, increasing levels of stress
are placed upon parents to adequately look after their children.

….
Considering that there are women who choose not to stay at home after
giving birth because they rely on paid work and/or they need or desire
to maintain their careers, paid maternity leave would not be a desirable
option for them, but subsidised child care would more likely be a
beneficial option for these women. [620]

A few submissions,
however, were opposed to additional childcare funding, asserting that
most mothers do not want nor need more childcare [621] or preferring funds to be spent on alternative centres.

Instead of subsidising
child care centres, I would like to see better (and much smaller)
subsidies for mother-and-child-care centres; places where isolated
mothers can meet during the day with their children. It is often loneliness,
as well as economics, which drive mothers back to work. [622]

11.6.2
Cost and availability of childcare

Childcare costs
were viewed by some as one of the reasons for the current trend towards
delaying childbirth.

I wonder if there
is research available which has asked women what actual factors prevented
them from having children earlier, or more children. I would expect
that many women would say that the cost of child care is a huge factor
… [623]

Not only was the
cost of childcare raised as an issue, but also the lack of available
childcare places. The Women's Council of the Liberal Party of Australia
(South Australia Division) wrote that:

[w]hile we acknowledge
the increase in places created by the Howard Government over the past
7 years, access to affordable and quality child care is still a problem
for many families with young children. We support any efforts from
the federal Government to continue the expansion of child care places
in areas of unmet need. [624]

A few submissions
and consultations also pointed out the special childcare needs of shift
workers, single parents and women working in rural and remote areas. [625]

[T]he rostering
and hours in call centres make it difficult to try to fit in childcare
arrangements - [the roster] is regimented and often you can't make
up time to fit in these arrangements. [626]

One shift worker
and single parent wrote of the difficulties she had managing childcare
in a way that was appropriate for her and her child.

Child care centres
do not cater to shift workers. If I book for particular days this
must be every week regardless of whether the child is in care, and
if I miss days then I lose part of the rebate. So for dayshift I must
book 50 hours of care per week, every week at a cost of approx $200
per week. I also need to have afternoon up to 11.30pm and also overnight
care for when I work P.M. shifts which involve up to 7 afternoon or
nights. Even while I am at work between 3.00pm & 11.30pm or 11.00pm
until 7.00am, I am still required to place my child into the day care. [627]

Given the enormous
interest in, and concern over, childcare places and affordability, HREOC
believes that this is an area that needs further examination as a matter
of urgency.

11.6.3
Work based childcare

One solution to
the perceived childcare problem was for the federal Government to assist
employers in establishing work based childcare.

We also encourage
the federal Government to consider financial incentives for employers
to provide quality, workplace childcare where possible as a part of
its policy "mix" to assist families with young children. [628]

One specific proposal
is for tax deductibility for childcare services, either to employers
for the costs of services provided in the workplace, or to employees
for services accessed in the community. This was raised in many submissions
as an important step to encourage employers to assist employees with
childcare needs. For example, Victorian Women Lawyers referred to tax
deductibility of childcare as a "key issue". [629] Employer groups also supported consideration of tax deductibility. For
example, Australian Business Industrial:

… recommends
that the government review the Fringe Benefit Tax liability associated
with employers providing financial assistance to employees for childcare.
The status quo regarding this tax legislation stands as a barrier
to many small and medium sized businesses from offering employees
benefits for childcare, due to the FBT liability attached to such
payments. Businesses that can afford to establish their own childcare
facilities (predominantly larger enterprises) are not subject to the
same regulation. [630]

Any future consideration
of childcare should include a discussion of taxation issues.

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11.7
Tax credits and income splitting

Some submissions
made general recommendations for consideration of taxation issues surrounding
parenthood.

[We would make
a] strong recommendation for the federal Government to examine
tax options for making parenthood more affordable
in order to
recognize the unique needs of children and their parents. [631]

However, the majority
of submissions on taxation issues specifically supported income splitting [632] or tax credits. [633] Their
general concern appeared to be the need to support two parent families
where one parent chose to work as a full time carer and homemaker. In
some submissions the stated policy objective was to support couples
in traditional relationships.

Further tax law
changes to allow income splitting for married couples with children
would ease the unfair financial burden on families struggling to raise
children on one income, with only one tax-free threshold. [634]

HREOC does not
support any system that gives preference to one kind of family over
another on the basis of marital status or sexuality. Even where income
splitting is applied in a "neutral" manner, in isolation from
other benefits it would have the effect of financially supporting two
parent families over single parent families. This is of particular concern
when single parent families remain the most economically disadvantaged
of families.

Other submissions
argued that income splitting, tax credits or similar schemes would have
the effect of providing women with genuine choice. The Australian Family
Association submitted that:

[t]he federal
Government should explore a homemaker's allowance, income splitting,
family unit taxation, a child tax credit, or some such scheme, which
will offer women real choice. It should be helping women, especially
mothers, to exercise genuine choice, instead of funnelling women into
a predetermined end. [635]

The Endeavour Forum
asked:

[w]hy not allow
all mothers genuine choice by a homemaker's allowance, income splitting,
family unit taxation, a child tax credit, or some such scheme? [636]

Many women want
to stay home full time to care for children, and it is the strong view
of HREOC that such choices should be valued and supported. However,
income splitting and tax credits may instead have the effect of providing
an active disincentive for women to work, even where they would prefer
to maintain some attachment to the labour force. For the reasons outlined
at 6.7, women gain many benefits from their labour force attachment
that would not be adequately compensated by variations in taxation arrangements.
Income splitting and tax credits may also encourage men to focus more
on paid employment, spend longer hours at work and be less available
to their families.

HREOC does not
believe that women need further incentives to care for children or to
perform domestic work. [637] A system that simply
supports women and men in their own work and family choices is most
equitable, and most practical.

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11.8
Research on fertility choices

If Australia is
to incorporate increasing the birth rate as part of its population policy,
there obviously needs to be a consideration of the factors affecting
a woman's decision to have children.

A number of submissions
and consultations expressed concern that there was a lack of research
and data collection being undertaken exploring women's decisions to
have children, and the input of this into population policy. For example,
the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce recommended that:

… further
relevant research be completed that takes into account the changed
society in which we live, with particular emphasis on the economic
position of women, and the factors considered whilst choosing to have
or not to have children. This research then needs to be supplemented
with the exploration of the mechanisms to assist or encourage women
to have children. [638]

Specific areas
for research were identified in the submission from the Motor Traders'
Association of New South Wales, which recommended the following.

  • Further investigation
    of overseas experiences with paid maternity leave schemes and their
    impact on fertility levels.
  • Exploration
    of the causes that contribute to the falling birth rate and addressing
    these causes, rather than attributing only one factor, the availability
    of maternity leave.
  • Research into
    the factors that women consider when choosing to have or not to have
    children in order to determine whether a short-term economic benefit
    would encourage women to have children. [639]

The Australian
Mines and Metals Association considered that data collection and research
was needed on men and women's decisions to reproduce, [640] the impact of government spending on the fertility rate [641] and the means of meeting Australia's population policy objectives. [642]

The National Women's
Council of South Australia commented that:

... there is
a greater need for understanding of factors, which influence reproductive
rates and choices, and the nexus between family and paid work responsibilities.
If the government is concerned about fertility rates, and is in the
process of developing family based policies, these developments must
be undertaken along side support for research in this area. [643]

As stated at 9.5
and 9.6, HREOC considers that Australia's falling fertility rates are
a symptom of the broader problem for parents, and in particular women,
in trying to combine work and family. HREOC considers that research
on fertility rates should be undertaken in the broader context of women's
decisions about work and family.

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242.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Valuing
Parenthood: Options for paid maternity leave, interim paper 2002
HREOC
Sydney 2002, Part C.
243. Health aspects of maternity leave and maternity
protection are discussed in a statement by the World Health Organization
to the International Labour Conference 2 June 2000 www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publicatins/French_FPP_93_3/
Health_aspects_of_maternity_leave.en.html
; Maternity Protection
Convention 2000
(No. 183) and Maternity Protection Recommendation 2000 (No. 191).
244. Australian Capital Territory Ministerial Advisory
Council on Women, Submission 120, p6.
245. Catherine Matson, Submission 12, p1.
246. Julie Lynch, Submission 213, p1.
247. HREOC Interview 24, September 2002.
248. S Brown and J Lumley "Maternal health after
childbirth: Results of an Australian population based survey" (1998)
105 British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 156 at 156, 157.
249. J Thompson et al "Prevalence and persistence
of health problems after childbirth: Associations with parity and method
of birth" (2002) 29 Birth 83.
250. J Thompson et al "Prevalence and persistence
of health problems after childbirth: Associations with parity and method
of birth" (2002) 29 Birth 83.
251. J Thompson et al "Prevalence and persistence
of health problems after childbirth: Associations with parity and method
of birth" (2002) 29 Birth 83 at 92.
252. J Thompson et al "Prevalence and persistence
of health problems after childbirth: Associations with parity and method
of birth" (2002) 29 Birth 83 at 85.
253. P McGovern et al "Time off work and the postpartum
health of employed women" (1997) 35(5) Medical Care 507 at
519.
254. L Tulman and J Fawcett "Recovery from childbirth:
Looking back six months after delivery" (1991) 12(3) Health Care
for Women International
341 at 344.
255. Job Watch Inc., Submission 191, pp10-11.
256. Meeting with Women's Economic Policy Analysis Unit,
Curtin University, Perth, 20 June 2002.
257. Unpublished data from a population based cohort
study conducted in the Australian Capital Territory in 1997 show that
30 per cent of the 1 193 women surveyed had been in paid employment at
some time in the first six months after childbirth, and that among the
women who returned to work within six months of having their babies, 77
per cent cited financial pressure as one of the main reasons for returning
to work. Cited in Jane Thompson, Submission 135, p1.
258. Lyn Collins and Barbara Pocock, Submission 232,
p5.
259. Warwick Giles, Submission 97, p1.
260. P McGovern et al "Time off work and the postpartum
health of employed women" (1997) 35(5) Medical Care 507 at
519; See also DW Gjerdingen et al "Changes in women's physical health
during the first postpartum year" (1993) 2(3) Archive of Family
Medicine
277 at 277.
261. P McGovern et al "Time off work and the postpartum
health of employed women" (1997) 35(5) Medical Care 507 at
518.
262. P McGovern et al "Time off work and the postpartum
health of employed women" (1997) 35(5) Medical Care 507 at
518. See also Paediatrics and Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian
College of Physicians, Submission 229, p3.
263. Union consultation, Hobart, 27 June 2002.
264. Union consultation, Hobart, 27 June 2002.
265. Australian Federation of University Women (South
Australia) Inc., Submission 179, p2. Also raised at union consultation,
Melbourne, 9 July 2002.
266. CA McVeigh "An Australian study of functional
status after childbirth" (1997) 13(4) Midwifery 172.
267. CA McVeigh "An Australian study of functional
status after childbirth" (1997) 13(4) Midwifery 172 at 173-174.
268. L Tulman and J Fawcett "Functional status
during pregnancy and the postpartum: A framework for research" (1990)
22(3) IMAGE Journal of Nursing Scholarship 191.
269. Adoptive parents consultation, Sydney, 19 June
2002.
270. CA McVeigh "An Australian study of functional
status after childbirth" (1997) 13(4) Midwifery 172 at 173.
See also L Tulman et al "Changes in functional status after childbirth"
(1990) 39(2) Nursing Research 70.
271. CA McVeigh "An Australian study of functional
status after childbirth" (1997) 13(4) Midwifery 172 at 176.
272. CA McVeigh "An Australian study of functional
status after childbirth" (1997) 13(4) Midwifery 172 at 176.
273. N Nassar and EA Sullivan Australia's Mothers
and Babies
1999 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
National Perinatal Statistics Unit Sydney 2001, p17.
274. N Nassar and EA Sullivan Australia's Mothers
and Babies
1999 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
National Perinatal Statistics Unit Sydney 2001, p62.
275. N Nassar and EA Sullivan Australia's Mothers
and Babies
1999 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
National Perinatal Statistics Unit Sydney 2001, pp18-19.
276. N Nassar and EA Sullivan Australia's Mothers
and Babies 1999
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National
Perinatal Statistics Unit Sydney 2001, p17.
277. N Nassar and EA Sullivan Australia's Mothers
and Babies 1999
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare National
Perinatal Statistics Unit Sydney 2001, p6.
278. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2001, p6.
279. Karen Simmer, Submission 72, p2.
280. Helen Wilkinson et al Time Out: The costs and
benefits of paid parental leave
Demos London 1997, p210.
281. H Rosenberg "Motherwork, stress and depression:
The costs of privatized social reproduction" in HJ Maroney and M
Luxton (eds) Feminism and Political Economy: Women's work, women's
struggles
Methuen Toronto 1987, pp181-196 at 183.
282. It is estimated that 10 to 15 per cent of mothers
in the community may suffer from postnatal depression. See Paediatrics
and Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians,
Submission 229, p4; Tresillian Family Care Centres, Submission 166, p2.
283. For an overview of the literature on the duration
of postnatal depression see P Romito "Work and health in mothers
of young children" (1994) 24(4) International Journal of Health
Services
607 at 612-613.
284. Tresillian Family Care Centres, Submission 166,
p2 citing National Health and Medical Research Council Postnatal Depression:
A systematic review of published scientific literature to 1999
Commonwealth
of Australia Canberra 2000, p1.
285. Eleanor Wilson, Submission 133, p6. Also raised
at women's groups and community consultation, Adelaide, 14 June 2002,
p9.
286. National Community Child Health Council, Submission
167, p2.
287. S Brown and J Lumley "Maternal health after
childbirth: Results of an Australian population based survey" (1998)
105 British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 156 at 158.
288. JF Thompson et al "Early discharge and postnatal
depression: A prospective cohort study" (2000) 172 The Medical
Journal of Australia
532.
289. Lyndall Strazdins, Submission 241, p1.
290. Michelle Falstein Coppola, Submission 38, p2.
291. JP Smith, LJ Ingham and MD Dunstone The Economic
Value of Breastfeeding in Australia
National Centre for Epidemiology
and Population Health Australian National University Canberra 1998, p21.
292. F Al-Yaman, M Bryant and H Sargeant Australia's
Children: Their health and wellbeing
2002 Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare Canberra 2002, p273.
293. Public Service Association of South Australia Inc.,
Submission 198, p1.
294. Australian Breastfeeding Association, Submission
222, p6.
295. Confidential, Submission 67, p1.
296. HREOC Interview 24, September 2002.
297. World Health Organization The Optimal Duration
of Exclusive Breastfeeding: Report of an expert consultation
WHO Geneva
2001.
298. Women's Electoral Lobby, Submission 248, p3. See
also Beverley Walker, Submission 192, p1; National Pay Equity Coalition,
Submission 224, p10; Queensland Council of Unions, Submission 239, p11;
Anna Edgelow, Submission 78, p1; Australian Breastfeeding Association,
Submission 222, p6.
299. F Al-Yaman, M Bryant and H Sargeant Australia's
Children: Their health and wellbeing
2002 Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare Canberra 2002, p275.
300. Australian Breastfeeding Association, Submission
222, p8 citing S Donath and L H Amir "Rates of breastfeeding in Australia
by state and socio-economic status: Evidence from the 1995 National Health
Survey" (2000) 36 Journal of Pediatric Child Health 164.
301. Australian Breastfeeding Association, Submission
222, p7.
302. F Al-Yaman, M Bryant and H Sargeant Australia's
Children: Their health and wellbeing 2002
Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare Canberra 2002, p274.
303. J Smith , J Thompson and D Ellwood Hospital
system costs of artificial infant formula feeding: Estimates for the Australian
Capital Territory
Canberra Hospital Canberra 2002 unpublished manuscript,
p1.
304. Vicki Clifton, Submission 59, p1 based on a report
by Research Triangle Park USA.
305. Gastrointestinal illness, respiratory illness,
otitis media, eczema and necrotizing enterocolitis.
306. J Smith, J Thompson and D Ellwood Hospital System
Costs of Artificial Infant Formula Feeding: Estimates for the Australian
Capital Territory
Canberra Hospital Canberra 2002 unpublished manuscript,
p1.
307. D Drane "Breastfeeding and formula feeding:
A preliminary economic analysis" (1997) 5(1) Breastfeeding Review
7 cited in JP Smith, LJ Ingham, and MD Dunstone The Economic Value
of Breastfeeding in Australia
National Centre for Epidemiology and
Population Health Australian National University Canberra 1998, p20.
308. R Cohen et al "Comparison of maternal absenteeism
and infant illness rates among breastfeeding and formula feeding women
in two corporations" (1995) 10(2) American Journal of Health Promotion 148; EG Jones and RJ Matheny "Relationship between infant feeding
and exclusion rate from child care because of illness" (1993) 93 Journal of the American Dietary Association 7 cited in JP Smith,
LJ Ingham, and MD Dunstone The Economic Value of Breastfeeding in Australia National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health Australian National
University Canberra 1998, p21.
309. Women's Electoral Lobby, Submission 248, p3.
310. Union consultation, Hobart, 27 June 2002.
311. JP Smith, LJ Ingham, and MD Dunstone The Economic
Value of Breastfeeding in Australia
National Centre for Epidemiology
and Population Health Australian National University Canberra 1998, p19.
See also Australian Breastfeeding Association, Submission 222, p7.
312. See, for example, Vicki Clifton, Submission 59,
p1; Australian Breastfeeding Association, Submission 222, p7; JP Smith,
LJ Ingham, and MD Dunstone The Economic Value of Breastfeeding in Australia National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health Australian National
University Canberra 1998, p19.
313. M Norrie, McCain and JF Mustard Early Years
Study: Final report
Ontario Children's Secretariat Toronto 1999, pp41-42.
314. Union consultation, Hobart, 27 June 2002.
315. Paediatrics and Child Health Division of the Royal
Australasian College of Physicians, Submission 229, p2 citing M Morrow-Tlucak,
R H Maude, C B Emhart "Breastfeeding and cognitive development in
the first two years of life" (1988) 26 Social Science Medicine 635.
316. Philip Gammage, Submission 91, p1.
317. Eleanor Wilson, Submission 133, p7.
318. Paediatrics and Child Health Division of the Royal
Australasian College of Physicians, Submission 229, p2. See also Australian
Capital Territory Ministerial Advisory Council on Women, Submission 120,
p4.
319. Women's Electoral Lobby, Submission 248, p5.
320. Queensland Working Women's Service, Submission
219, p7.
321. Women's groups and community consultation, Wagga
Wagga, 17 July 2002.
322. Women's groups and community consultation, Wagga
Wagga, 17 July 2002.
323. P Hopper and E Zigler "The medical and social
science basis for a national infant care leave policy" (1988) 58(3) American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 324 at 332.
324. M Barkley Work and Home Commitments: Some issues
for Australian parents
Paper presented at the Fourth Australian Family
Research Conference Sydney 1993. See also P Hopper and E Zigler "The
medical and social science basis for a national infant care leave policy"
(1988) 58(3) American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 324 at 331-332.
325. Maternity Leave Conditions and Entitlements under
the State Service Wages Agreement 2001, cited in Tasmanian Government,
Submission 244, Attachment A, pp1-2.
326. Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association,
Submission 173, p11.
327. Women's Action Alliance (Australia) Inc., Submission
146, p6. Also raised at women's groups and community consultation, Perth,
20 June 2002.
328. ABS 6361.0 Survey of Employment and Superannuation April - June 2000 unpublished data. See also 3.3.2.
329. See 11.3.3 and 14.3.
330. HREOC Interview 2, August 2002.
331. See, for example, Australian Business Industrial,
Submission 119, p2; Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Submission
197, p19; Australian Education Union, Submission 122, p4; Queensland Nurses'
Union, Submission 134, p6; Victorian Women Lawyers, Submission 137, p4;
Melissa Austin, Submission 149, p1; Australian Services Union MEU Private
Sector Victorian Branch, Submission 154, p1; Australian Retailers Association,
Submission 165, p12; Women's Studies Research Unit, School of Social Work,
University of Melbourne, Submission 48, p2; New South Wales EEO Practitioners'
Association, Submission 77, pp1-2; Victorian Government, Submission 250,
p8; Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales, Submission 214, p12;
YWCA of Australia, Submission 228, p11. Also raised at women's groups
and community consultation, Sydney, 30 April 2002.
332. South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner,
Submission 71, p2.
333. Australian Federation of University Women - Victoria,
Submission 101, p1; See also Job Watch Inc., Submission 191, p11.
334. See 3.3 for further discussion of who currently
has access to paid maternity leave.
335. Victorian Government, Submission 250, pp1-2.
336. National Community Child Health Council, Submission
167, p1.
337. Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association,
Submission 173, p14.
338. Carrie Parsons, Submission 25, p1.
339. Martje McKenzie, Submission 9, p1.
340. Katherine Whincop, Submission 2, p1. Also raised
at employers consultation, Hobart, 27 June 2002, where it was stated that,
"[f]or working women there doesn't seem to be any incentive to have
children. Especially those highly skilled women. They tend to lose out."
341. Australian Business Industrial, Submission 119,
p13.
342. Women's Economic Think Tank, Submission 125, p4.
343. AMP-NATSEM The Cost of Children Issue 3
October 2002 www.amp.com.au/au/ampweb.nsf/content/E180+AMP+
NATSEM+Reports
.
344. Women's groups and community consultation, Perth,
20 June 2002.
345. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p11. Also raised at union consultation, Darwin, 7 June 2002.
346. See, for example, International Adoptive Parents
Association, Submission 145, p2; R and N Cornhill, Submission 131, p5;
Australian African Children's Aid and Support Association Inc., Submission
22, p1; D Seitam, Submission 39, p1; L Hayes, Submission 43, p1; P and
M Marshall, Submission 45, p3.
347. R and N Cornhill, Submission 131, p5.
348. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Submission
197, p33.
349. Bruce Chapman et al The Foregone Earnings from
Child Rearing
Revised Discussion paper No 47 Centre for Economic Policy
Research Australia National University Canberra 1999. See also National
Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224, p11; Labor Council of New South
Wales, Submission 218, p3; Community and Public Service Union - State
Public Services Federation Group, Submission 230, p3.
350. See, for example, Union Research Centre on Organisation
and Technology, Submission 254, p3; National Pay and Equity Coalition,
Submission 224, pp10-15; YWCA of Australia, Submission 228, p4.
351. International studies do indicate that paid maternity
leave contributes to women's long term economic security. For example,
empirical evidence from the United States indicates that women covered
by a formal maternity leave policy, and who return to their original employer
have higher pay: J Waldfogel "Working mothers then and now: A cross-cohort
analysis of the effects of maternity leave on women's pay" in F Blau
and R Ehrenberg (eds) Gender and Family Issues in the Workplace Russell Sage Foundation New York 1997. A European study shows that rights
to a short period (fourteen weeks) of paid parental leave raises the employment
rates of young women with little impact on hourly earnings: Christopher
J Ruhm "The economic consequences of parental leave mandates: Lessons
from Europe" (1998) 113 The Quarterly Journal of Economics 285.
352. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p12.
353. Union consultation, Perth, 21 June 2002.
354. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p12 cites S Donath Women and Superannuation Seventh Interdisciplinary
Women's Studies Conference Adelaide 1997; Community and Public Service
Union - State Public Services Federation Group, Submission 230, p4 : "…
long term detachment from the workforce results in … negative effects
on retirement incomes and shifting women from contributing to the taxation
system to being reliant on the welfare system".
355. Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria, Submission
242, p4; see also YWCA of Australia, Submission 228, p4.
356. Superannuation was also identified as a critical
issue at the union consultation, Brisbane, 24 April 2002.
357. YWCA of Victoria, Submission 127, p15.
358. Women's Economic Policy Analysis Unit, Curtin University
of Technology, Submission 98, p10.
359. Women's Economic Policy Analysis Unit, Curtin University
of Technology, Submission 98, p11 (emphasis in original).
360. See, for example, Women's Economic Policy Analysis
Unit, Curtin University of Technology, Submission 98, p18; Community Public
Sector Union - State Public Services Federation Group, Submission 230,
p10; Chris Van Der Wijngaart, Submission 35, p1.
361. The study was conducted by S Austen, T Jefferson
and A Preston in 2001 for the Women's Policy Office, Western Australia
Government. It can be found at Women and Retirement Income: Issues
and inequities
www.cbs.curtin.edu/research/wepau.WEPAUBookII.pdf.
362. Women's Economic Think Tank, Submission 125, p6.
363. Women's Electoral Lobby, Submission 248, p21.
364. Women's Economic Policy Analysis Unit, Curtin University
of Technology, Submission 98, p18.
365. Chris Van Der Wijngaart, Submission 35, p1.
366. Work + Family Policy Research Group University
of Sydney, Submission 251, p12.
367. See 19.4.
368. See 2.5.5 and Table 2.1.
369. ABS Census 2001, customised tables for George
Megalogenis, The Australian newspaper.
370. Work + Family Policy Research Group University
of Sydney, Submission 251, p8.
371. Victorian Government, Submission 250, pp7-8.
372. See, for example, Queensland Nurses' Union, Submission
134, p6; Melissa Austin, Submission 149, p3; Association of Independent
Schools of Victoria, Submission 108, p3. See also the experience of Westpac
Banking Corporation, AMP, Hewlett Packard and SC Johnson set out below.
373. See, for example, Susan Tucker, Submission 187,
p1; Angelo Zanatta, Submission 180, p1; Australian Federation of University
Women (South Australia) Inc., Submission 179, p2; Australian Nursing Federation,
Submission 123, pp7-8; Job Watch Inc., Submission 191, p1; Melissa Austin,
Submission 149, p3; National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224, p9;
Labor Council of New South Wales, Submission 218, p5; Queensland Nurses'
Union, Submission 134, p6.
374. Australian Nursing Federation, Submission 123 p7.
375. Commonwealth Department of Employment, Workplace
Relations and Small Business ACCI National Work and Family Award Winners
and Finalist: Business benefits of paid maternity leave
Commonwealth
of Australia Canberra 2001, p2.
376. George Trumbell "Creating a culture that's
good for a business" in Ed Davis and Valerie Pratt (eds) Making
the Link: Affirmative action and industrial relations No 8
Labour
Management Studies Foundation Sydney 1997, 31-33 at 32.
377. Commonwealth Department of Employment, Workplace
Relations and Small Business ACCI National Work and Family Award Winners
and Finalist: Business benefits of paid maternity leave
Commonwealth
of Australia Canberra 2001, p2.
378. Commonwealth Department of Employment, Workplace
Relations and Small Business ACCI National Work and Family Award Winners
and Finalist: Business benefits of paid maternity leave
Commonwealth
of Australia Canberra 2001, p2.
379 . Australian Industry Group, Submission 121, p16.
380. See, for example, YWCA of Victoria, Submission
127, p11; Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales, Submission 214,
p12; New South Wales Working Women's Centre, Submission 225, p10; Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Submission 116F, p1; Queensland
Nurses' Union, Submission 134, p6; Victorian Women Lawyers, Submission
137, p5; Karen Bijkersma, Submission 150, p1; Australian Services Union
MEU Private Sector Victorian Branch, Submission 153, p2; Women's Studies
Research Unit, School of Social Work, University of Melbourne, Submission
48, p3.
381. Work + Family Policy Research Group University
of Sydney, Submission 251, p8.
382. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p25.
383. Melissa Austin, Submission 149, p3.
384. Women's Economic Think Tank, Submission 125, p8;
see also National Tertiary Education Union, Submission 169, p6.
385. YWCA of Australia, Submission 228, pp13-14.
386. Women's Action Alliance (Australia) Inc., Submission
146, p5. See also Maryse Usher, Submission 65, p1.
387. Gerry Watts, Submission 66, p1.
388. Catherine Hakim Work-Lifestyle Choices in the
Twenty-first Century: Preference theory
Oxford University Press Oxford
2000.
389. See Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Pregnant and Productive: It's a
right not a privilege to work while pregnant
HREOC Sydney 1999.
390. The relevant sections are section 5, which defines
sex discrimination, and section 7 which concerns discrimination on the
basis of pregnancy. See section 7A for discrimination on the ground of
family responsibilities. Family responsibilities discrimination is only
unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act where it involves dismissal.
Section 14 makes these grounds of discrimination unlawful in the area
of employment. The interim paper pointed out that an employer's failure
to provide paid maternity leave could arguably be indirect sex discrimination
under the Sex Discrimination Act. There have been no cases under the Sex
Discrimination Act or comparable legislation where a woman established
that a failure to provide paid maternity leave was unlawful sex discrimination.
However, such an outcome remains a possibility. For further discussion,
see Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Valuing
Parenthood: Options for paid maternity leave, interim paper 2002
HREOC 2002, p40.
391. See, for example, Schedule 14 clause 12 Workplace
Relations Act 1996 (Cth). This Act only applies to full time and part
time employees. Some casual employees may have these rights under federal
awards or State legislation.
392. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Annual
Report 2001 - 2002
HREOC Sydney 2002, p73. This is a significant
increase from the previous year's complaints, in which pregnancy and family
responsibilities discrimination made up 18 per cent of all complaints
to HREOC under the Sex Discrimination Act: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity
Commission Annual Report 2000
- 2001
HREOC Sydney 2001, p73. Note that, in addition, many complaints
of family responsibilities are brought as indirect sex discrimination
complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act.
393. Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales, Submission
214, p10.
394. Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales, Submission
214, p10.
395. New South Wales Working Women's Centre, Submission
225, p9. See also YWCA of Australia, Submission 228, p6: "The YWCA
urges the government to recognise the barriers that prevent women from
full participation in the workforce, including direct and indirect workplace
discrimination."
396. Queensland Working Women's Service, Submission
219, p5.
397. Work + Family Policy Research Group University
of Sydney, Submission 251, p6.
398. New South Wales Public Service Association, Submission
110, p3.
399. Independent Education Union of Australia, Submission
204, p5.
400. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Submission
197, p28.
401. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Submission
197, p28.
402. Joan Williams Unbending Gender: Why work and
family conflict and what to do about it
Oxford University Press New
York 2000, p2.
403. Union Research Centre on Organisation and Technology,
Submission 254, p2.
404. Union Research Centre on Organisation and Technology,
Submission 254, p4 citing I Wolcott and H Glezer Work and Family Lives:
Achieving integration
Australian Institute of Family Studies Melbourne
1995, p14.
405. See 6.6.
406. Marty Grace, Submission 151, pp1-2.
407. Joan Williams Unbending Gender: Why work and
family conflict and what to do about it
Oxford University Press New
York 2000, p3.
408. Karen Simmer, Submission 72, p3.
409. Community and Public Sector Union - State Public
Services Federation Group, Submission 230, p2.
410. Australian Council of Trade Unions, Submission
208, p6. Also raised at union consultation, Brisbane, 24 April 2002.
411. YWCA of Victoria, Submission 127, p5.
412. National Women's Council of South Australia, Submission
128B, p1.
413. H Colley, Submission 143, p1.
414. National Tertiary Education Union, Submission 169,
p3.
415. Australian Services Union MEU Private Sector Victorian
Branch, Submission 154, p2.
416. Primary school teacher quoted in Australian Education
Union, Submission 122, p12. Also raised at employers consultation, Hobart,
27 June 2002.
417. See also the discussion of paid maternity leave
as an equality issue: Chapter 8.
418. ABS 6361.0 Survey of Employment Arrangements
and Superannuation
April - June 2000 unpublished data.
419. ABS 6361.0 Survey of Employment Arrangements
and Superannuation
April - June 2000 unpublished data.
420. ABS 6361.0 Survey of Employment Arrangements
and Superannuation
April - June 2000 unpublished data.
421. South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner,
Submission 71, p3.
422. HREOC Interview 3, August 2002.
423. Lyn Collins and Barbara Pocock, Submission 232,
p7 (emphasis in original).444. HREOC Interview 24, September 2002.
425. See, for example, New South Wales Working Women's
Centre, Submission 225, p8. Also raised at women's groups and community
consultation, Melbourne, 31 May 2002.
426. BPW New South Wales, Submission 118, p2.
427. Union consultation, Hobart, 27 June 2002. Other
submissions also stressed the increased status for women as a reason for
introducing paid maternity leave. See National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission
224, p9: "The provision of PML will provide a stronger legitimation
of women's continued participation in paid work after childbirth. This
support will contribute to reduced pregnancy and maternity discrimination
(as will increased rates of return of women to their jobs)."
428. Immigrant Women's Speakout Association New South
Wales Inc., Submission 158, p3.
429. Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria, Submission
242, pp4-5.
430. New South Wales Working Women's Centre, Submission
225, p13: This submission also cites J C Altman and B Hunter The Geographic
Distribution of Unemployment-Related Benefits and CDEP Scheme Employment
CAEPR Discussion Paper No. 112 Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy
Research Australian National University Canberra 1996 and New South Wales
Working Women's Centre Report of the Indigenous Women's Project 1999.
431. South Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner,
Submission 71, p2.
432. Australian Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous
Workers Union, Submission 153, p2.
433. Hawke Institute, Submission 174, p4.
434. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p17.
435. BPW International, Submission 82, p1; See also
BPW Australia, Submission 148, p6.
436. See 2.4.7.
437. Mothers of In(ter)vention, Submission 104, p2.
Also raised at women's groups and community consultation, Melbourne, 31
May 2002; employers consultation, Canberra, 17 June 2002. See 5.4 and
11.3 for further discussion.
438. Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association,
Submission 173, p5.
439. Australian Business Industrial, Submission 119,
p5.
440. Australian Business Industrial, Submission 119,
p5. This submission reported on a survey of members of the organisation
which revealed a wide array of family friendly policies provided, p14.
441. Illawarra Forum Inc. and Illawarra Women's Health
Centre, Submission 162, p4. Also raised in employers consultation, Canberra,
17 June 2002.
442. Employers consultation, Melbourne, 30 May 2002.
443. BPW Australia, Submission 148, p12; See also Australian
Council of Trade Unions, Submission 208, p13; see also Anti-Discrimination
Board of New South Wales, Submission 214, p13; New South Wales Working
Women's Centre, Submission 225, p10; Victorian Government, Submission
250, p1; Women's Council, Liberal Party of Australia (South Australia),
Submission 100, p2; see also Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace
Agency, Submission 217, p2; Australian Federation of University Women
- Victoria, Submission 101, p2.
444. Preamble Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women
GA Res 180 (XXXIV 1970), 19
ILM 33 (1980).
445. Preamble Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women
GA Res 180 (XXXIV 1970), 19
ILM 33 (1980).
446. See article 11(2) Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
GA Res 180 (XXXIV 1970),
19 ILM 33 (1980) and the Maternity Protection Convention 2000 (No
183). See also YWCA of Victoria, Submission 127, 4-5; Centre for Applied
Social Research RMIT University, Submission 234, p7.
447. Maternity Protection Convention 2000 (No
183).
448. Philip Gammage, Submission 91, p3.
449. Centre for Applied Social Research RMIT University,
Submission 234, p8 citing S Charlesworth "Working Mums: The construction
of women workers in the banking industry" (1999) 4 (2) Journal
of Interdisciplinary Gender Studies
12.
450. Queensland Working Women's Service, Submission
219, p5.
451. Work/Life Association, Submission 171, p9 (emphasis
in original).
452. National Women's Council of South Australia, Submission
68, p1 (emphasis in original). See also the Hawke Institute, Submission
174, p2 and Australian Services Union South Australia and Northern Territory,
Submission 189, p4.
453. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission,
Submission 116A, p1.
454. Women's groups and community consultation, Darwin,
5 June 2002.
455. See, for example, Adoptive Families Association
of the Australian Capital Territory Inc., Submission 115, p2; Aboriginal
and Torres Strait Islander Commission, Submission 116A, p1, 116C, p1,
116H, p1; Australian Nursing Federation, Submission 123, p6; Queensland
Nurses' Union, Submission 134, p6; National Women's Council of South Australia,
Submission 68, p1; Flight Attendants' Association of Australia, Submission
139, p1; Melissa Austin, Submission 149, p2; Australian Services Union
MEU Private Sector Victorian Branch, Submission 154, p2; Immigrant Women's
Speakout Association of New South Wales Inc., Submission 158, p8; EMILY's
List, Submission 159, p2; Illawarra Forum Inc. and Illawarra Women's Health
Centre, Submission 162, p2; Victorian Independent Education Union, Submission
163, p3; Women's Studies Research Unit, School of Social Work, University
of Melbourne, Submission 48, p2; Women's Health in the North, Submission
60, p2; Union of Australian Women, Submission 89, p1; National Tertiary
Education Union, Submission 169, p3; Work/Life Association, Submission
171, p9.
456. Coles Myer Ltd, Submission 107, p7.
457. Lyn Collins and Barbara Pocock, Submission 232,
p3.
458. YWCA of Victoria, Submission 127, p12. Also raised
at union consultation, Canberra, 16 July 2002, where it was stated that:
"[s]ome of our employers are offering women to take long service
leave before the time of birth. Although this helps them and extends the
period of time they have off, it is not what long service leave is for.
It's meant to be a time to recharge batteries".
459. Women's Studies Research Unit, School of Social
Work, University of Melbourne, Submission 48, p2.
460. Centre for Applied Social Research RMIT University,
Submission 234, p8.
461. H Colley, Submission 142, p4.
462. Women's Action Alliance (Australia) Inc., Submission
146, p6.
463. See 13.4.2 for further discussion.
464. Marty Grace, Submission 151, p4.
465. See, for example, National Women's Council of South
Australia, Submission 68, p6; Centre for Applied Social Research RMIT
University, Submission 234, p11.
466. Women's groups and community consultation, Adelaide,
14 June 2002.
467. UNICEF Why Make a Special Case for Children? www.unicef.org/crc/specialcase.htm.
468. Articles 5 and 18 Convention on the Rights of
the Child
GA Res 44/25 (1989).
469. Preamble Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women
GA Res 180 (XXXIV 1970), 19
ILM 33 (1980).
470. Rosemary Freney, Submission 80, p1; See also, for
example, Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, Submission
173, p12.
471. New South Wales Working Women's Centre, Submission
225 p10; See also Australian Federation of University Women Inc., Submission
202, p1.
472. Karen Bijkersma, Submission 150, p2.
473. See, for example, Association of Independent Schools
of Victoria, Submission 108, p4; Australian Services Union MEU Private
Sector Victorian Branch, Submission 154, p1; Isobel Gawler, Submission
235, p1; Kate Purcell and Tim O'Reilly, Submission 20, p1; Mothers of
In(ter)vention, Submission 104, p3-4; Queensland Council of Unions, Submission
239, p8; Women's Policy Research Unit, School of Social Work, University
of Melbourne, Submission 48, p3; YWCA of Australia, Submission 228, p15.
Also raised at women's groups and community consultation, Hobart, 25 June
2002.
474. Women's Action Alliance (Australia) Inc., Submission
146, p3.
475. Equal Opportunity Commission Victoria, Submission
240, p2.
476. HREOC Interview 17, 12 September 2002.
477. See, for example, Marty Grace, Submission 151,
p2; Rosemary Freney, Submission 80, p1; Work + Family Research Group University
of Sydney, Submission 251, p6; Karen Bijkersma, Submission 150, p1; South
Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner, Submission 71, p2; Women's
Action Alliance (Australia) Inc., Submission 146, p5. Also raised at women's
groups and community consultation, Canberra, 8 July 2002.
478. Immigrant Women's Speakout Association New South
Wales Inc., Submission 158, p12. See also discussion at 11.3.2 and 14.4.3.
479. Women's Economic Think Tank, Submission 125, p3.
Also raised at women's groups and community consultation, Perth, 20 June
2002.
480. Work + Family Research Group University of Sydney,
Submission 251, p7.
481. Australian Industry Group, Submission 121, p13.
See also Women's Economic Think Tank, Submission 125, p8; Australian Education
Union, Submission 122, p12; Immigrant Women's Speakout Association New
South Wales Inc., Submission 158, p12.
482. Australian Capital Territory Ministerial Advisory
Council on Women, Submission 120, p4. Also raised at women's groups and
community consultation, Brisbane, 24 May 2002.
483. See, for example, union consultation, Adelaide,
1 July 2002; women's groups and community consultation, Perth, 20 June
2002.
484. CSIRO Staff Association, Submission 226, p6.
485. Women's groups and community consultation, Brisbane,
24 May 2002.
486. New South Wales EEO Practitioners' Association,
Submission 77, p7. See also CSIRO Staff Association, Submission 226, p5;
YWCA of Australia, Submission 228, p11.
487. Australian Family Association, Submission 114,
p3.
488. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2001, p6.
489. Francis G Castles "The world turned upside
down: Below replacement fertility, changing preferences and family friendly
public policy in 21 OECD countries" unpublished paper 2002
(forthcoming (2003) 13 Journal of European Social Policy), p67.
490. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, p6.
491. ABS 4102.0 Australian Social Trends 2002,
pp37-40.
492. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p6.
493. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p6.
494. For a further discussion of current trends in fertility
see Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Valuing
Parenthood: Options for paid maternity leave, interim paper 2002
HREOC Sydney 2002, p61.
495. Women's Council, Liberal Party of Australia (South
Australia), Submission 100, p2.
496. See Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Valuing Parenthood: Options for paid maternity
leave, interim paper 2002
HREOC Sydney 2002, p61.
497. Sandra Wills, Submission 29, p1.
498. Ethnic Communities' Council of Victoria, Submission
242, p3.
499. Confidential, Submission 181, p1. See also C Harvey,
Submission 238, p1; 6.3.
500. See Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Valuing Parenthood: Options for paid maternity
leave, interim paper 2002
HREOC Sydney 2002, p61. See also 2.4.3.
501. See, for example, CSIRO Staff Association, Submission
226, p8; Law Institute of Victoria, Submission 215, p2.
502. See, for example, Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Commission, Submission 116E, p1; Australian Council of Trade
Unions, Submission 208, p12; Coles Myer Ltd, Submission 107, p9; Paul
Russell, Submission 184 p1; Recruitment and Consulting Services Association,
Submission 220, p2; R and N Cornhill, Submission 131, p5; Queensland Nurses'
Union, Submission 134, p2.
503. See, for example, South Australian Equal Opportunity
Commissioner, Submission 71, p2.
504. Guy Witcomb, Submission 5, p1.
505. See, for example, Coles Myer Ltd, Submission 107,
p9.
506. Australian Industry Group, Submission 121, p12
citing the Australian Industry Group How Fast Can Australia Grow? Mark
II
Australian Industry Group Discussion Paper December 2000, p8.
507. See, for example, Motor Trade Association of South
Australia Inc., Submission 142, p2; Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce,
letter accompanying Submission 112, p1.
508. Festival of Light, Submission 102, p1.
509. Victorian Government, Submission 250, p1.
510. See, for example, Peter McDonald "Work-family
policies are the right approach to the prevention of low fertility"
(2001) 9 (3) People and Place 17-27 at 24-26, which argues that
family policy can make a difference to family formation and fertility.
511. Victorian Women Lawyers, Submission 137, p6.
512. Coles Myer Ltd, Submission 107, p9. See also Eleanor
Wilson, Submission 133 p3; Law Institute of Victoria, Submission 215 p2;
Public Service Association of South Australia Inc., Submission 198, p1.
513. Women's Electoral Lobby, Submission 248, p17.
514. Karen Bijkersma, Submission 150, p1. See also,
for example, Susan Tucker, Submission 187, p1; Australian Federation of
University Women (South Australia) Inc., Submission 179, p2; Belinda Fischer,
Submission 246, p1; BPW Adelaide East, Submission 178B, p1: "[paid
maternity leave] will encourage population growth within a statistically
well educated and/or high work value population which traditionally has
a lower birth rate than a socially more dependant population"; C
Harvey, Submission 238, p1; Confidential, Submission 181, p1; Graham Evans,
Submission 15, p1; Jill Johnson, Submission 62, p1; John Patterson, Submission
21, p1; Martje McKenzie, Submission 9, p1; National Pay Equity Coalition,
Submission 224, p9: "[p]aid maternity leave is likely to improve
the prospects of some women and families being able to have a second child";
National Women's Council of South Australia, Submission 68, p1; New South
Wales Public Service Association, Submission 110, p4.
515. CSIRO Staff Association, Submission 226, p8. See
also Melissa Austin, Submission 149, p9.
516. Francis G Castles "The world turned upside
down: Below replacement fertility, changing preferences and family friendly
public policy in 21 OECD countries" unpublished paper 2002 (forthcoming (2003) 13 Journal of European Social Policy), p25.
517. Francis G Castles "The world turned upside
down: Below replacement fertility, changing preferences and family friendly
public policy in 21 OECD countries" unpublished paper 2002 (forthcoming (2003) 13 Journal of European Social Policy), pp32-33.
518. See, for example, Victorian Women Lawyers, Submission
137, p6; Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia Ltd, Submission
117, p1; Motor Traders' Association of New South Wales, Submission 141,
p5; Motor Trade Association of South Australia Inc., Submission 142, p1;
Melissa Austin, Submission 149, p9. This issue was also raised at the
employers consultation, Melbourne, 30 May 2002.
519. See 11.2 for further discussion on the need for
a suite of measures.
520. Council for Equal Opportunity in Employment Ltd,
Submission 252, p2. See, for example, Susan Tucker, Submission 187, p2;
Australian Council of Trade Unions, Submission 208, p12; Australian Institute
of Family Studies, Submission 113, pp3-4; Australian Nursing Federation,
Submission 123, p12; Coles Myer Ltd, Submission 107, p6; Confidential,
Submission 14, p2; National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224, p9;
Paul Russell, Submission 184, p1; Penny Stewart, Submission 31, p1; Printing
Industries Association, Submission 172, p8; South Australian Equal Opportunity
Commissioner, Submission 71, p2; Women's Council, Liberal Party of Australia
(South Australia), Submission 100, p2.
521. National Women's Council of South Australia, Submission
128B, p2. See also Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, Submission
112, p7; Motor Traders' Association of New South Wales, Submission 141,
p2; Susan Tucker, Submission 187, p7; Confidential, Submission 168, p3;
Australian Business Industrial, Submission 119, p6.
522. For example, the Australian Mines and Metals Association
suggested that immigration policy should be included in any consideration
of means addressing the ageing of the population: Australian Mines and
Metals Association, Submission 130, p2. The International Adoptive Parents
Association considered that "… adoption should be encouraged
as a way of forming families": International Adoptive Parents Association,
Submission 145, p2.
523. See 6.7 for further discussion.
524. The business case argument outlining why individual
employers should provide paid maternity leave is not included in this
paper as an employer funded scheme of paid maternity leave is not a recommended
proposal. For a full discussion on the business case for paid maternity
leave however, see Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Valuing
Parenthood: Options for paid maternity leave, interim paper 2002
HREOC Sydney 2002, pp56-57.
525. Kerry Brown and Rachel Wynd "Australian employers'
motivations for providing paid maternity leave" in Di Kelly (ed) Crossing Borders: Employment, work markets and social justice across
time, discipline and place
Papers from the Association of Industrial
Relations Academics of Australia and New Zealand Conference 2001 AIRAANZ
Wollongong 2001 volume 1, pp357-363 at p362.
526. Women make up 44 per cent of the overall labour
force according to ABS 6203.0 Labour Force Australia August 2001,
26. See also the discussion in New South Wales Labor Council, Submission
218, p5.
527. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, 16. The
median age for first births for women is now 30 years: ABS Births Australia
2001
, p6.
528. See, for example, Karen Bijkersma, Submission 150,
p1.
529. Public Service Association of South Australia Inc.,
Submission 198, p2.
530. Victorian Women Lawyers, Submission 137, p6.
531. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p15.
532. Employers consultation, Adelaide, 13 June 2002.
533. See Chapter 5 for a general discussion of the health
and wellbeing objectives of paid maternity leave.
534. Employers consultation, Adelaide, 13 June 2002.
535. Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union Vehicle
Division Statement in Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, Submission
237, pp18-19.
536. Australian Retailers Association, Submission 165,
p16.
537. Law Institute of Victoria, Submission 215, p2.
538. See Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Valuing Parenthood: Options for paid maternity
leave, interim paper 2002
HREOC Sydney 2002, pp18-23. See also
3.3 on existing maternity leave arrangements.
539. See 7.4.
540. See Chapter 7 for further discussion on how paid
maternity leave can address the workplace disadvantage experienced by
women.
541. See 19.4.
542. See 19.4.
543. Law Institute of Victoria, Submission 215, p2.
544. Cited in Victorian Women Lawyers, Submission 137,
pp5-6.
545. Australian Education Union, Submission 122, p29.
546. See, for example, the Queensland Nurses' Union,
Submission 134, p6; Australian Nursing Federation, Submission 123, p6.
Also raised at union consultation, Darwin, 7 June 2002.
547. See, for example, Association of Independent Schools
of Victoria, Submission 108, p3; Centre for Applied Social Research, RMIT
University, Submission 234, p8; New South Wales Public Service Association,
Submission 110 p4; Victorian Government, Submission 250, p8; Australian
Education Union, Submission 122, p4, p29.
548. See, for example, National Women's Council of South
Australia, Submission 128B, p2.
549. Association of Independent Schools of Victoria,
Submission 108, pp3-4. See also New South Wales Public Service Association,
Submission 110, p4; Victorian Government, Submission 250, p8; Australian
Education Union, Submission 122, p4; Australian Education Union, Submission
122, p29. Also raised at employers consultation, Perth, 20 June 2002.
550. National Pay Equity Coalition, Submission 224,
p9.
551. See, for example, the Australian Federation of
University Women (Inc.), Submission 202, p2. See also 6.7 for a discussion
on the benefits of labour force attachment for women.
552. Australian Council of Trade Unions, Submission
208, p8.
553. Council for Equal Opportunity in Employment Ltd,
Submission 252, p2; see also Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission,
Submission 116E, p1.
554. Victorian Government, Submission 250, p7.
555. Australian Nursing Federation, Submission 123,
p6. Also raised at employers consultation, Canberra, 17 June 2002.
556. Union consultation, Perth, 21 June 2002.
557. Melissa Austin, Submission 149, p3.
558. Martje McKenzie, Submission 9, p1.
559. See 2.4.3 for further discussion on the trends
in women's education.
560. Australian Council of Trade Unions, Submission
208, p10 citing National Centre for Vocational Education Research Australian
Vocational Education and Training Statistics 2000: Women in VET 2000 at
a glance
National Centre for Vocational Education Research Adelaide
2001.
561. National Centre for Vocational Education Research Australian Vocational Education and Training Statistics 2000: Women
in VET 2000 at a glance
National Centre for Vocational Education Research
Adelaide 2001, p2.
562. ABS 4102.0 Australian Social Trends 2001,
p92.
563. HREOC Interview 6, August 2002.
564. See, for example, Australian Capital Territory
Ministerial Advisory Council on Women, Submission 120, p7; Australian
Council of Trade Unions, Submission 208, p10; New South Wales Public Service
Association, Submission 110, p4; Patricia Todd and Judy Skene, Submission
176, p2.
565. Australian Education Union, Submission 122, p4.
566. This was particularly the case in relation to securing
women's long term economic security, see Chapter 6, and delivering equality,
see Chapter 8. However consensus was that a minimum period of paid maternity
leave on its own would deliver significant benefits for the health and
wellbeing of mothers and infants.
567. Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations,
Submission 194, p2 (emphasis in original).
568. Finance Sector Union, Submission 161, p4. See also
Marty Grace, Submission 151, p4: "[f]ourteen weeks of paid maternity
leave will not bring gender equity to this country. Even with paid maternity
leave, it will still be unreasonable to expect one person to look after
a baby, wash, cook, clean and shop for a household seven days a week without
breaks. We will still have all the problems with finding high quality
affordable childcare and women's double shift of work at work and work
at home when they return to employment."
569. Philip Gammage, Submission 91, p2 (emphasis in
original). See also, for example, Susan Tucker, Submission 187, p1: "I
believe paid maternity leave is a small part, and the least cost[ly] option
in a range of initiatives the Government could make if serious about retaining
women in the Australian workforce and increasing the population of Australia"
and National Women's Council of South Australia, Submission 68, p7: "[i]t
needs to be recognised that a single policy is unlikely to adequately
address all of these challenges and a host of initiatives, including affordable,
accessible, high quality childcare, needs to be developed" (emphasis
removed from original).
570. Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, letter
accompanying Submission 112, p2.
571. Australian Business Industrial, Submission 119,
p5.
572. Women's Council, Liberal Party of Australia (South
Australia), Submission 100, p1.
573. BPW Australia, Submission 148, p12.
574. See also 9.2 and 9.5.
575. Women's Action Alliance (Australia) Inc., Submission
146, p3 (emphasis in original).
576. Eleanor Wilson, Submission 133, p5 (emphasis in
original).
577. Mothers of In(ter)vention, Submission 104, p2.
578. Marty Grace, Submission 151, p5.
579. Australian Family Association, Submission 92, p1;
Festival of Light, Submission 102, p3; Endeavour Forum, Submission 144,
p1.
580. M Barkley Work and Home Commitments: Some issues
for Australian parents
Paper presented at the Fourth Australian Family
Research Conference Sydney 1993.
581. Marty Grace, Submission 151, p4.
582. Mothers of In(ter)vention, Submission 104, p2.
583. Marty Grace, Submission 151, pp4-5.
584. Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association,
Submission 173, p6. See also Finance Sector Union, Submission 161, part
2, p2.
585. University of Melbourne Postgraduate Association,
Submission 76, p1.
586. Australian Education Union, Submission 122, p3.
587. Australian Industry Group, Submission 121, p25.
588. Australian Nursing Federation, Submission 123,
p12. Also raised at employers consultation, Sydney, 12 June 2002.
589. Union of Australian Women, Submission 89, p2 (emphasis
removed from original). See also EMILY's List, Submission 159, p3: "[f]lexible
work options with a focus on quality part time work that would include
the opportunity to move full and part time work, as well as access to
training and opportunities for promotion, are also important. And for
true equality for women, pay equity is certainly a must."
590. Finance Sector Union, Submission 161, p3 (footnotes
omitted).
591. D Purcell, Submission 90, p1.
592. Women's Council, Liberal Party of Australia (South
Australia), Submission 100, p2.
593. For an outline of some of these points see Australian
Chamber of Commerce and Industry "Overtime and Working Hours - The
Facts" Press Release 23 September 2002.
594. Reasonable Hours Test Case Australian Industrial
Relations Commission Print 072002 23 July 2002.
595. Minister Tony Abbott "Test Case Outcome Welcome" Media release 23 July 2002.
596. For further details see www.kellyservices.com.au.
597. Centre for Applied Social Research, RMIT University,
Submission 234, p11.
598. Australian Retailers Association, Submission 165,
p8. See also National Farmers' Federation, Submission 160, p15; Motor
Trade Association of South Australia Inc., Submission 142, p2.
599. Women's Action Alliance (Australia) Inc., Submission
146, p2.
600. Hawke Institute, Submission 174, p6.
601. See Schedule 1A, section 14 Workplace Relations
Act
1996 (Cth).
602. Union consultation, Sydney, 3 July 2002.
603. Independent Education Union of Australia, Submission
204, p8.
604. Depending on the circumstances, this may be direct
or indirect sex discrimination in employment under the Sex Discrimination
Act, or possible dismissal on the ground of family responsibilities if
the woman has to leave the position as a result.
605. See, for example, Thomson v Orica Aust Pty Ltd
[2002]
FCA 939 (30 July 2002); Gibbs v Australian Wool Corporation (1990) EOC 92-327; Hickie v Hunt & Hunt (1998) EOC 92-910.
606. Australian Services Union MEU Private Sector Victorian
Branch, Submission 154, p6.
607. United Kingdom Department of Trade and Industry New Employment Legislation: Flexible Working - the Right to Apply www.dti.gov.uk/er/individual/flexible-p1516.htm.
608. Work/Life Association, Submission 171, p10.
609. Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association,
Submission 173, p3.
610. Coles Myer Ltd, Submission 107, p3. Note that Coles
Supermarkets also provides 26 weeks unpaid parental leave to employees
with 6 months continuous employment.
611. See, for example, Australian Education Union, Submission
122, p3.
612. Australian Education Union, Submission 122, p2.
613. Independent Education Union of Australia, Submission
204, p8.
614. Australian Council of Trade Unions Maternity
Leave: Test Case to build on maternity leave
, 18 October 2002 www.actu.asn.au/public/campaigns/maternity/wftestcase.html.
615. For example, 75 separate submissions raised the
issue of childcare, almost all in support of increased access and affordability.
It was raised as an issue in the majority of consultations. See, for example,
Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce and Industry consultation, Darwin,
7 June 2002; union consultation, Perth, 21 June 2002.
616. Australian Retailers Association, Submission 165,
p2.
617. EMILY's List, Submission 159, p3.
618. Mothers of In(ter)vention, Submission 104, p2.
619. Australian Industry Group, Submission 121, p26.
620. Motor Traders' Association of New South Wales,
Submission 141, p2. See also Motor Trade Association of South Australia
Inc., Submission 142, p2 (emphasis in original): "we agree [with
sister organisations] that childcare and retraining needs should also
be examined by governments before implementing any form of social welfare
benefit
".
621. Cathy Sherry, Submission 205, p3.
622. Maryse Usher, Submission 65, p1. Australian Family
Association, Submission 92, also expressed concern about support for childcare.
623. Confidential, Submission 14, p2.
624. Women's Council, Liberal Party of Australia (South
Australia), Submission 100, p1.
625. See, for example, Northern Territory Trades and
Labor Council, Submission 84, p1; Verlaine Bell, Submission 19, pp1,2.
See also employers consultation, Canberra, 17 June 2002.
626. Union consultation, Sydney, 3 July 2002.
627. Verlaine Bell, Submission 19, p1.
628. Women's Council, Liberal Party of Australia (South
Australia), Submission 100, p2.
629. Victorian Women Lawyers, Submission 137, p6.
630. Australian Business Industrial, Submission 119,
p6 (emphasis removed from original).
631. Printing Industries Association, Submission 172,
p10 (emphasis in original).
632. See, for example, Salt Shakers, Submission 109,
p1; Patrick Healy, Submission 175, p1; Diane McGill, Submission 182, p1.
633. See, for example, Paul Russell, Submission 184,
p1; Agnes and Matt Furlong, Submission 188, p1.
634. Festival of Light, Submission 102, p3.
635. Australian Family Association, Submission 92, cover
letter.
636. Endeavour Forum, Submission 144, p1.
637. For a contrary position, see Council of Small Business
Organisations of Australia Ltd, Submission 117, p1: "[i]ncentives
need to be established to encourage a parent to be a primary care giver.
This could be by tax breaks, (income splitting) government paid allowances
(eg paid maternity leave) out of social security which is not means tested."
638. Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, Submission
112, p4; Individual response provided through the National Women's Council
of South Australia, Submission 128C, p1. Also raised at women's groups
and community consultation, Brisbane, 24 May 2002.
639. Motor Traders' Association of New South Wales,
Submission 141, p4.
640. Australian Mines and Metals Association, Submission
255, p16.
641. Australian Mines and Metals Association, Submission
255, p14.
642. Australian Mines and Metals Association, Submission
255, p17. See also Australian Business Industrial, Submission 119, p5.
643. National Women's Council of South Australia, Submission
68, pp6-7.