Australia must adopt a system of paid maternity leave

Wednesday, 11 December 2002

In welcoming the Sex Discrimination Commissioner's recommendations for paid maternity leave today, Dr Barbara Pocock, Director of the Centre for Labour Research at the University of Adelaide, today called on the Federal Government to take action sooner than later.

"With so much talk about motherhood, family and fertility, it is timely the Federal Government put its money where its mouth is," Dr Pocock said.

"It is 84 years since the ILO adopted an international standard in favour of paid maternity leave, recognizing that a paid break is vital to maternal and child health, and an essential support to women's work. Australia must join the international majority."

Dr Pocock said the Sex Discrimination Commissioner's proposals are practical, do-able and affordable.

"Australian businesses have much to gain from this. A government funded minimum maternity payment will cut the costs of labour turnover and save on training.

"The two-thirds of Australia's lower income women in the private sector, who currently lack any paid leave, will join the lucky third that currently receive some benefits," she said.

She added Pru Goward has mapped a way forward which is fair, affordable and long overdue.

"Paid maternity leave is not the whole story on work and family issues, much more is necessary. However, it will end the situation where many women return to work faster than they want to, compromising their own health and that of their families.

"A clear political challenge exists for the Government. John Howard's most senior appointee in relation to women and sex discrimination is telling him to take a moderate step and he should take this measured advice," Dr Pocock said.


Contact Details

Associate Professor Barbara Pocock
Queen Elizabeth II Fellow in Labour Studies
School of Social Sciences
University of Adelaide.
Business: 8313 3736
Mobile: 0414 244 606

Media Team
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0814