Baby Care Payment step in the right direction
Wednesday, 31 March 2004
A new Baby Care Payment is an important step forward for Australia, a labour studies expert said today in response to an announcement by the Leader of the Opposition.
Responding to Mr Mark Latham's statement on this issue, Associate Professor Barbara Pocock, Queen Elizabeth II Fellow in Labour Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide, said it would take Australia close to the 1919 ILO recommendation on maternity.
"The ILO standard recognises that the physical act of maternity, and a fair go for women at work, require a period of paid rest for working mothers.
"Labor's proposed Baby Care Payment would give all eligible mothers a payment that is equivalent to 14 weeks at minimum wage by in 2010 (after tax)," Dr Pocock said.
A Baby Care Payment for most mothers - with or without jobs - recognises that all mothers are working mothers.
"The proposed payment promises a very important support for the almost two million part-time Australian women - many of whom are poorly paid and casual.
"The policy is a potential boon for business. It is a windfall for the thousands of Australian businesses who do not offer paid maternity leave. Hopefully, this will leave them free to top up the basic government payment, or provide other supports like flexible return to work programs, secure part-time work or paid leave to care for sick dependents," Dr Pocock said
She said the proposal has several other virtues.
"Firstly, it effectively replaces Howard's Baby Bonus - an expensive, regressive, badly timed policy disaster.
"Second, it puts the greatest benefit where it is most needed: into mother's pockets at the time of birth in households that need it most. And it does so with minimal paper work, no tricky eligibility rules in relation to periods of employment, and some flexibility for mothers around when they get the payment."
- Associate Professor Barbara Pocock is a Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide. Her latest book is The Work/Life Collision.
Queen Elizabeth II Fellow in Labour Studies
School of Social Sciences
University of Adelaide.
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