Essay about Maternity Leave in Australia

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Maternity Leave in Australia Maternity leave allows women to take leave of absence from their job to give birth and care for their children. The International Labor Organisation sets minimum standards for maternity leave. These include a right to 12 weeks' paid maternity leave and prohibition against dismissal during maternity leave. Although a member of the ILO, Australia has never ratified its convention concerning maternity protection ---- we have no standard maternity leave provisions. Australian law entitles women to 12 months' unpaid leave and for more than 25 years the Commonwealth Employees Act has entitled Commonwealth employees to paid maternity leave. About two-thirds of women in the…show more content…
Of industrialised nations, it is the Scandinavian countries that set the pace. In Norway, for example, women are entitled to a year's maternity leave on full pay, two years' unpaid leave and the right to part-time employment while their children are young. Supporters of more comprehensive paid maternity leave say motherhood means a substantial loss of earnings, demotion and insecurity in the workplace for many women. Providing financial and job security for women as well as helping businesses retain skilled employees makes good financial sense. They point out that it is only a privileged few who receive paid leave, and these are usually women on higher incomes. There are also those who point to paid maternity leave as a way of dealing with concerns about the ageing of the Australian population and declining birth rate. Demographer Professor Peter McDonald claims that Australia cannot afford to continue with its system of unpaid leave if it wants to encourage the birth rate, which is presently below replacement levels. Striking a balance between affordable policies and meeting the needs of families is challenging. Many agree that it is unfair for business alone to be expected to shoulder the burden of paid leave. Australian Democrats leader Senator Natasha Stott Despoja has suggested that consideration be given to alternatives to the existing employer-pays system. She advocates

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