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Maternity leave scheme: 2009 Budget

Pregnant woman
© kenhurst | dreamstime

Despite a global recession and forecasts of a budget deficit the Rudd Government is reported to unveil a paid maternity scheme that will benefit families, employers and the economy.

With the announcement of the 2009 Federal Budget set for next week things are looking good for parents as a paid maternity leave scheme is likely to be introduced.

The Productivity Commission, the Australian Government's independent research and advisory body, has recommended a scheme of 18 weeks paid leave for mothers at the minimum wage. Amid fears of recession and budget deficit the Commission has suggested that the scheme may be introduced with a delayed start date and be phased in gradually. The ACT government is leading the pack having already implemented a scheme ahead of Tuesday’s budget with an extra four weeks leave – bringing maternity leave to a total of 18 weeks.

Although the economy is in poor shape the introduction of a universal paid maternity leave scheme will not only benefit parents but would also be welcomed by the business community believes Jaye Radisich, chief executive of the Council of Small Businesses of Australia: ‘Whether this happens now in the downtimes or good times, it won't make that much difference to the economy overall’, she said.

Other organisations, such as the National Foundation for Australian women, believe government-funded maternity leave will help to boost the economy.

‘The economic merits of paid parental leave can no longer be disputed. An equitable and affordable scheme not only can but should be funded in the May Budget’, said David Richardson, Senior Research Fellow at The Australia Institute.

The Federal 2009 Budget will be announced on Tuesday 12 May.

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