This isn’t the first time I’ve blogged on maternity pay. Last time, it was to say how horrified I was when I first found out—coming from a country with generous maternity leave provisions—that Australian women didn’t have the same luxury. But is it a luxury?
As editor of a magazine for small business owners, I’m now forced to look at it from the small business angle rather than simply someone who one day hopes to be a working mother. Tomorrow’s budget is expected to contain a commitment from the Government for 18 weeks’ paid parental leave for women earning less than $150,000 a year. But not until 2011.
The federal minimum wage will be paid to new parents by the Government, and not businesses. This is a huge policy reform, and a step forward for women in business, particularly being announced in the middle of a recession.
Now people are already starting to find things to whinge about (and I’m normally a big fan of that). The negatives include that it isn’t happening until 2011, and that businesses who were going introduce their own maternity leave provisions will now abandon them, safe in the knowledge that the Government will pay for it come 2011, so why would they?
All valid points but just for a moment, it wouldn’t hurt for us to celebrate a massive step forward for women in Australia. We may just be catching up with (rather than overtaking) the rest of the Western world, but the fact is, we’re getting there.
What do you think?