There have been a lot of questions flying around about the effect of the Government’s announcement of a paid maternity leave scheme in the Federal Budget tomorrow, on small business.
The maternity leave scheme will include 18 weeks of paid leave at the minimum wage, equating to $544 a week, and will be available for women earning less than $150,000 a year. The scheme is expected to be implemented in 2011. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said that it will not hinder small business, as long as they understand how the scheme will work.
“There’s good evidence that this scheme will work, but it does need to be implemented properly and part of that’s around education. We need to make sure that small business understands how the scheme works.”
The chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisation of Australia (COSBOA) Jaye Radisich has welcomed the announcement, claiming it should not put extra pressure on small business in terms of labour costs.
“We’re pleased this is happening… what this scheme means is that life is going to be a lot easier for people.”
Ms Radisich said the only way it will hurt small business, is the delay.
“In terms of small businesses, the difference between now and two years time would have been negligible.”
However, Australian Industry Group chief executive Heather Ridout has argued that they delay will mean businesses have more time to prepare for and understand the scheme.
“The means testing of paid maternity leave is consistent with the need for fiscal caution and is supported by the AIG, as too is the delay in its start date, which will give time for businesses to prepare and understand the scheme.”
She also rejected claims the delay may encourage businesses who were set to introduce their own maternity leave policies to hold back until 2011.
“Business will look at their own schemes and see how it integrates, and this is part of the phase-in process which I think is quite sensible.”