Recently there were media reports about a 14 week funded maternity leave being introduced in Australia. There needs to be much debate about how this leave could be funded. I’d hate to see that we end up with something like the system in France, which seems to have backfired on the women’s movement. I understand that employers fund the two years mandatory paid maternity leave, and now French companies discriminate against women of child-bearing age because they don’t want the potential maternity leave burden for their business.
I left corporate life when I became a Mum (well actually 12 months later after I realised that I wanted something different for my family than a mother always in a hurry and feeling guilty.)

    Here are some stats that I got from The Good Weekend (14 July 2007). “Proportion of mothers in the workforce in Australia who go back to work before their baby is nine months old: 40 percent; six months old: 25 percent; three months old: 10 percent.”

Something does need to be done, to support people during this time when income declines and expenses go up.
I know many of the ‘Gen Y’ people who work at RedBalloon somehow to equate their super payment to a ‘tax’, It is money they don’t see (well not for at least 30 years) and when you’re 20 that is more than a lifetime away). They definitely don’t think of the employer’s contribution as part of their salary. Having children might be some way off for them it seems a bit closer than retirement.
I remember the thing that I wanted in that first year of being a parent was some level of tax breaks.
I wonder the potential of a system whereby parents could take regular payments for 12 months from their super fund when they have a child. To make this available to every woman (or parent who ever was the primary carer) ? not means tested. This way employers would have already made their contributions, and of course, people could make their own contributions to their fund based on their own tax advice. (Has this already been invented and I don’t know about it?)
Food for thought. As an employee, I wanted more flexibility when I had children more than a decade ago. As an employer, I do offer part time roles and working from home options to give some level of flexibility to parents (this works for me too because I get highly skilled people), but for us to fund 14 weeks maternity leave for a business of our size couldn’t work.
Whatever the policy makers choose, please choose something that will work for parents and employers, we want to create the clever country you know (in more ways than one.)

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