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Valuing Parenthood - Part C

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Valuing Parenthood - Options for Paid Parental Leave: Interim Paper 2002

Part C: Objectives of Paid Maternity Leave

CHAPTER 5: Introduction

CHAPTER 6: Objective - achieving equity

6.1 Addressing workplace disadvantage

6.2 Developing equitable workplaces

6.3 Fairness for all employees

CHAPTER 7: Objective - supporting women and families

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Health and welfare of mothers and newborn children

7.3 Enabling women to combine work and family

7.4 Direct cost of children

7.5 Economic security for women

CHAPTER 8: Objective - benefits to employers

8.1 Commercial benefits of paid maternity leave

CHAPTER 9: Objective - benefits to society

9.1 Economic benefits to society

9.2 Social benefits

9.3 National fertility and population policy


CHAPTER 5: Introduction

It can be argued that paid maternity leave can go some way to meeting a number of identified national policy objectives. The structure of any paid maternity leave scheme may be varied depending on the objectives identified.

Possible objectives of a paid maternity leave scheme identified during consultations on this paper include

  • ensuring that women are not disadvantaged in their employment through their intrinsic role in child bearing;
  • maintaining a committed and competitive workforce;
  • protecting significant capital investment by the government in the education and training of women;
  • supporting economic security for women throughout their lives;
  • accommodating the position of women as a significant proportion of the available skilled labour pool, thus enhancing Australia's economic competitiveness;
  • supporting the health and welfare of mothers and newborn children;
  • assisting women and men to manage their work and parental responsibilities so that the needs of children and families may be met in the context of modern Australian society;
  • ensuring that working women do not unwillingly delay or avoid having children; and
  • addressing the declining national birth-rate and its consequences for Australia as a society in the future, and its future tax and economic base.

Identifying and assessing relevant objectives for a paid maternity leave scheme is important in considering the possible characteristics of such a scheme, in particular the duration of paid leave, eligibility requirements, size of payments and funding source. In addition to this, there might be other policy measures which better or already meet these objectives.

Part C discusses the various policy objectives for paid maternity leave under the following headings.

  • Equity issues, including addressing systemic discrimination, fairness to all employees, supporting women's choices and developing socially responsive workplaces (Chapter 6).
  • Supporting women and families, including the health and welfare of mothers and newborn children and the economic security of women and their families (Chapter 7).
  • Benefits to employers, including discussion of the commercial benefits of paid maternity leave (Chapter 8).
  • Benefits to society, including economic benefits and the achievement of a sustainable population level (Chapter 9).

Paid maternity leave alone will not fully meet these policy objectives. Social and economic issues such as women's health, workplace equity and employment security are complex and cannot be guaranteed by any single action. Instead, paid maternity leave should be seen as one of a range of measures that could be used to meet these objectives.


QUESTIONS

Q.10 Which objectives, whether discussed in this paper or not, do you consider should be the primary objectives of a paid maternity leave system? Why?
Q.11 Do you consider that a paid maternity leave system would be able to meet any or all of these objectives? If so, to what extent?
Q.12 Are there particular design elements for a paid maternity leave scheme that would be crucial for achieving particular objectives? If so, what are those elements?
Q.13 Are you aware of any additional international or Australian evidence or studies that document the effectiveness of paid maternity leave in achieving any of these objectives?

CHAPTER 6: Objective - achieving equity

6.1 Addressing workplace disadvantage

6.1.1 Introduction

Women continue to experience unequal treatment in the workplace because of their role in bearing and caring for children. This unequal treatment can take the form of specific acts of discrimination such as dismissal as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, reduced wages or diminished workplace responsibilities. Some employers are unwilling to promote women with children. Even without discrimination, the cost and responsibilities of child bearing and rearing usually fall disproportionately on mothers. While families may agree to this allocation of responsibilities, the participation of women in unpaid as well as paid work frequently results in generalised workplace disadvantage for women. This level of disadvantage includes the disadvantage some women experience in performing paid work of low personal satisfaction.

One of the underlying principles of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (and CEDAW) is that women and men should be treated equally. Equality does not require that men and women always receive identical treatment, but that any treatment does not unfairly disadvantage one sex. Men and women cannot and should not be treated the same in relation to the areas of life in which women are unique: pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding. In this sense, protection from discrimination and benefits for workers before and after childbirth are not exceptions to equal treatment but rather conditions for non-discrimination. Paid maternity leave is one of a raft of measures that can ameliorate women's workplace disadvantage.

6.1.2 Women and employment discrimination

Australia currently has legislation that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex and pregnancy and provides some protection against discrimination based on family responsibilities. At the federal level, the relevant legislation is the Sex Discrimination Act. [99]

The capacity of women to combine work and mothering responsibilities has been improved substantially by the existence of anti-discrimination legislation making maternity and pregnancy discrimination unlawful. Industrial and workplace relations legislation also provides protection against dismissal for pregnant employees and their partners, as well as guaranteeing a right to return to their employment after a period of leave. [100]

However, women continue to experience discrimination at work based on pregnancy, breastfeeding, return to work issues and family responsibilities. In the year ending October 2001, pregnancy and family responsibilities discrimination alone made up 18 per cent of all complaints to the HREOC under the Sex Discrimination Act. [101]

There is an argument that providing paid maternity leave could increase the incidence of sex-based discrimination. Were paid maternity leave provided solely by employers, they may seek to avoid this cost by preferring male employees over women of child bearing age. This is an important factor to consider in the design of a paid maternity leave scheme.

Paid maternity leave and indirect sex discrimination

It is arguable that a failure to provide paid maternity leave could constitute indirect sex discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act. Indirect discrimination occurs when a condition, requirement or practice in the workplace appears to apply equally but is actually discriminatory in its effect.

Indirect sex discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act arises where a person imposes, or proposes to impose a condition, requirement or practice that has, or is likely to have, the effect of disadvantaging women or men and which is not reasonable in the circumstances. [102] It is arguable that a failure to provide paid maternity leave imposes a requirement that disadvantages women.

In the case of maternity rights the [discriminatory] requirement could be identified as one that requires parental leave to be taken as unpaid leave. It is clearly arguable that such a requirement has the effect of disadvantaging women, because of their biological role in childbearing and because of the fact that it is predominantly women who take parental leave and suffer a consequential loss of income. [103]

However, coverage of such disadvantage by the indirect sex discrimination provisions of the Sex Discrimination Act is subject to the requirement being unreasonable. It may be arguable that requiring women to take unpaid leave at childbirth is reasonable.

There have been no cases under the Sex Discrimination Act or other comparable legislation in Australia where a woman has established that a failure to provide paid maternity leave was unlawful sex discrimination.

Women and workplace disadvantage

In its recent report on the progress of the Maternity Protection Convention in signatory countries, the International Labour Organization noted that

… maternity protection in the last half century has been marked by progress in law, an evolution in workplace practice and rising social expectations regarding the rights of working women during their child-bearing years. Yet the gains registered have so far failed to resolve the fundamental problem experienced by most, if not all, working women at some point in their professional lives: unequal treatment in employment due to their reproductive role. [104]

Submissions to the HREOC National Inquiry into Pregnancy and Work noted that the absence of paid maternity leave compounds other disadvantage flowing to women because of the particular circumstances of maternity. For example, the absence of paid maternity leave compounds the disadvantage many women experience when pregnant at work. [105]

The International Labour Organization considers paid maternity leave an essential element in establishing a process to overcome such unequal treatment.

As an indispensable means of protecting the health of any woman wage-earner and her child, the mother's right to a period of rest when a child is born, together with a guarantee of being able to resume work after the break with adequate means of supporting herself and her family, is the core element of any instrument seeking to reconcile women's procreative role with the demands of paid employment. [106]

6.2 Developing equitable workplaces

Where women do have access to paid maternity leave, they may be deterred from making full use of such leave by the culture of an organisation. The attitudes of management and other employees to paid maternity leave and other family friendly policies may influence the likelihood of employees making use of these policies. Low take up of family-friendly policies can lead to a significant divergence between policy and practice within an organisation.

The influence of workplace culture on women's decisions about maternity leave was raised in the context of HREOC's National Inquiry into Pregnancy and Work.

During formal and informal consultations, several accounts from professional women identified that they, due to workplace culture, and in order to protect their roles, felt personally compelled to take annual or long service leave rather than maternity leave to have their babies. [107]

This is supported by other anecdotal evidence. One example is the success of paid paternity leave at AMP. The leave was introduced in 1995, and one of the first men to take it was a senior manager. Despite the national trend of low paternity leave take up rates, 400 men at AMP have since taken six weeks paid parental leave and the take up is increasing each year. The organisation attributes the high rates of paternity leave take up to the example set by management, which contributed to a change in corporate culture. [108]

The introduction of paid maternity leave may have a positive impact on corporate attitudes to balancing work and family. Government action on paid maternity leave will provide a strong signal to the community that supporting parents to balance work and family is an important issue that requires action, either in the form of paid leave or other family supports. It may also increase acceptance by organisations that employees should be supported in balancing work and family.

6.2.1 Paid maternity leave as an employee entitlement

Maternity leave may be construed as an employee entitlement, like annual leave or sick leave. The question then is why maternity leave is not financially supported in the same way as other types of leave. There may be a strong argument on equity grounds that maternity leave be paid in the same way that other leave is paid.

Employee entitlements such as these assist in the building of trust and respect between employers and employees by acknowledging the personal needs and responsibilities of employees. They also build employee loyalty to employers, can improve productivity and reduce labour hire and retraining costs. Potential benefits for employers are further discussed in Chapter 8.

6.3 Fairness for all employees

The current spread of paid maternity leave through the Australian workforce is uneven. Whether any particular employee will have access to paid maternity leave will depend on the type of organisation and industry she works in as well as her occupation and employment status. While competitive labour markets necessarily contain distinctions, the social nature of maternity, in particular the clear benefits to society of children in addition to the macroeconomic benefits of the maintenance of the population, suggest that the provision of paid maternity leave cannot be treated entirely as a matter for the market and that uneven provision of benefits may produce less than optimal social and macroeconomic outcomes.

6.3.1 Paid maternity leave by organisation size and type

Women working in smaller organisations and the private sector are more limited in their access to paid maternity leave, compared to women working in the public sector and larger organisations, where paid maternity leave is more readily available. See the discussion in Section 2.3.2.

6.3.2 Paid maternity leave by industry

As shown in Section 2.3.2 access to paid maternity leave is also highly industry related. For example, SEAS found that 68 per cent of employees in government administration and defence had access to paid maternity leave whereas only 13 per cent of employees had these entitlements in accommodation, cafe and restaurant industries. [109]

The ACTU has concluded that the uneven spread of paid maternity leave is the consequence of the high proportion of casual workers in some industries. [110] For example, the hospitality industry has a 55.2 per cent rate of casual employment. Those on lower incomes are less likely to receive paid entitlements, further reducing their ability to manage a temporary separation from the workplace.

For women employed in these industries the ability to take paid parental leave and ensure their child's and their own health and wellbeing is reduced. This amplifies the disadvantage facing low income women who choose to have children. Parenting payments and other means-tested allowances may partially ameliorate this disadvantage. [111]

6.3.3 Paid maternity leave by occupation

From the data available, discussed in Section 2.3.2, it appears that the occupations with the highest incidence of paid maternity leave are those where employees have higher skill levels and higher education.

These data indicate that access to paid maternity leave and other family-friendly policies is skewed towards those who already have higher incomes and greater individual workplace status.

This is partly because office work is often conducive to flexible working hours and because employers are generally keener to retain highly skilled staff than low skilled staff due to the higher costs associated with replacing professional staff. This keenness often translates to offering working conditions that are attractive to employees in a bid for the employer to be known as an 'employer of choice.' [112]

6.3.4 Paid maternity leave by employment status

Current requirements for accessing paid maternity leave generally restrict access to long term and permanent employees. Around 40 per cent of women employed on a casual basis have less than 12 months service. [113] For women in permanent employment, 16 per cent of part time employees and 18 per cent of full time employees have less than 12 months service. [114]

ABS data show that 0.4 per cent of female casual employees are entitled to paid maternity leave, compared with 53.6 per cent of other female employees. [115]

Women in casual and short term employment often have more marginal attachment to the labour force. These positions are the most likely to go during periods of economic downturn. There is also very limited bargaining power attached to these positions. As such, the employment status of these women is significantly more vulnerable than for permanent employees. These women are more likely to need to resign in order to have time out of the workforce or to take leave at the birth of a child. Given their lower levels of income from work, these women may also be more likely to be forced to return to work within 14 weeks following the birth of a child, particularly if the available welfare benefits are inadequate compensation.

The high proportion of women in casual employment, and the increasing rate of casual employment in Australia, mean that the ability of some women to access paid maternity leave is likely to be deteriorating.

In addition, women who are self-employed or employed on a contract basis are unlikely to have access to paid maternity leave.


QUESTIONS

Q.14 Do you consider that a paid maternity leave scheme would assist to provide greater workplace equity?
Q.15 Are there particular design elements for a paid maternity leave system that would be crucial for achieving workplace equity? If so, what are they?
Q.16 Are you aware of any additional international or Australian evidence or studies that document the effectiveness of paid maternity leave in achieving workplace equity?

CHAPTER 7: Objective - supporting women and families

7.1 Introduction

Paid maternity leave is one means of providing direct support to women in the paid workforce following the birth of a child. Such support can contribute to women's and children's health following childbirth; enable women to better combine work and family; compensate for the loss of income at a time of increased expenses; and contribute to women's economic security.

The economic benefits for women of paid maternity leave include encouraging women's continuing attachment to the workforce. Uninterrupted labour force attachment does not suit everyone; many women prefer to remain out of the workforce for long periods to care for children. The economic benefits of paid maternity leave associated with continuous labour force attachment will apply differently to women according to their work and family choices.

7.2 Health and welfare of mothers and newborn children

One of the basic objectives of paid maternity leave is to ensure the health and welfare of mothers and newborn children. In consultations on paid maternity leave, there was general consensus that the role of bearing and raising children is a function that is socially desirable and should be supported by the community.

7.2.1 Maternal recovery

While maternity is no longer considered an illness or disability, there is no doubt that pregnancy, childbirth and the demanding feeding schedule of a newborn child affect a woman's health at this time. In addition, a large number of women in Australia give birth by caesarean section, which necessitates a period of post-birth recovery. It is usually necessary for a woman to leave the workplace for a period to ensure that she recovers from childbirth. This time is important in ensuring the health of the mother and the child. Paid maternity leave can assist by ensuring that women are able to take an adequate recovery period out of the workforce following birth. Without financial support, some women may find it necessary to return to the workforce at a stage which may be detrimental to either their health or the welfare of the child.

The exact period of time that is required will vary according to a woman's individual experience. The World Health Organization (WHO), in considering international standards for the health care of new mothers, considers that approximately 16 weeks absence from work after childbirth is necessary as a minimum to recover from childbirth and to accommodate breastfeeding. [116] Longer periods of leave are advantageous to allow for ongoing care by either parent, however this 16 week period is considered essential for women purely on health grounds.

WHO notes that

[a] period of absence from work after birth is of utmost importance to the health of the mother and the infant. This is conducive to both the optimal growth of the infant and the bonding between mother and infant. Absence from work also allows the mother to recover. The time needed depends on her health before, during and after birth, as well as on the health of the infant and whether or not the birth was complicated. After delivery maternal health problems that may arise include infections, anaemia, depression, backache, anxiety and extreme tiredness. [117]

The need to ensure maternal health was one of the primary objectives of the ILO 183 and its provisions for paid maternity leave.

Not only is maternity leave and appropriate medical care essential to enable a woman to retain or regain her health and to return to work, but income replacement during her leave period has become indispensable for the well-being of herself, her child and her family. [118]

The ILO in part adopted WHO's recommendations; the ILO's international standard requires a minimum period of 14 weeks paid maternity leave, preferably longer, with a minimum of six weeks leave after childbirth. [119]

On the other hand, some women can and do return to work within the 16 weeks following childbirth with no apparent detriment to their health. Women should not be forced to take leave if their health does not require it. HREOC considers that a compulsory period of leave for an employee with a newborn child who is willing to do her job is discriminatory. HREOC holds a similar view with regard to compulsory periods of maternity leave for pregnant employees prior to the birth of a child. [120] The purpose of paid maternity leave is not to enforce a period of leave but to ensure that financial concerns do not force women to return to work before they have recovered from childbirth.

7.2.2 Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is widely recognised as one of the most important contributions to infant health, including improved growth, immunity and development.

WHO considers that

[b]reastfeeding is a major determinant of infant health. There is ample evidence on the advantages of breastfeeding for child health and development and for the prevention of child mortality and morbidity. Infants who are exclusively breastfed (that is, receiving only breast milk and no other food or drink) for at least 4 months have significantly less gastrointestinal and respiratory illness including ear infections and asthma, than those who are not breastfed. Breastfeeding is particularly important for the preterm and/or low birth weight infant. [121]

The importance of breastfeeding for mothers and children is supported by a number of community and medical professional groups in Australia. For example, in a position statement on breastfeeding, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) has stated that

[t]he AMA supports breast-feeding because of its beneficial effects on an infant's nutritional, immunological and psychological development and because of the bonding promoted between mother and child. [122]

The Federal Government's National Breastfeeding Strategy also recognises the importance of breastfeeding for maternal and child health. A report of the Strategy states that

[b]reastfeeding is one of the most important contributors to infant health. Breastfeeding provides a range of benefits for the infant's growth, immunity and development. In addition, breastfeeding improves maternal health and contributes economic benefits to the family, health care system and workplace. [123]

Governments in Australia have implemented a range of strategies to promote and support breastfeeding and to increase the rate of breastfeeding in Australia. [124]

Of particular concern in this regard are ABS statistics that indicate that

… although a high percentage of women commence breastfeeding, there is a rapid decline in the numbers of women breastfeeding by the time the infant is six weeks of age. [125]

Various studies have noted the link between return to work and cessation of breastfeeding. In its Guide to Combining Breastfeeding and Work, the former federal Department of Industrial Relations notes that

[w]hile a return to work will not affect the initiation of breastfeeding it can have a negative impact on the breastfeeding relationship by contributing to its early cessation. [126]

A 1990-91 survey in South Australia by Stamp and Crowther of 222 women found that seven per cent of women had stopped breastfeeding by six weeks due to an impending return to work. [127] Similarly a 1991 survey in Tasmania by Cox and Turnbull of 268 women found that seven per cent of women ceased breastfeeding because of a return to the paid workforce. [128]

A US survey by Auerbach and Guss of 567 women drawn from across the US and five other countries found that timing of return to work influenced infant weaning. In particular 'if the mother returned to work before her baby was 16 weeks old, the likelihood of early weaning from the breast increased'. [129] In contrast

[w]omen who begin working after 16 weeks often have a well-established milk supply, and may have successfully negotiated one or more transient breastfeeding crisis, thereby minimizing negative effects that employment can have on breastfeeding. [130]

Feeding a newborn child by bottle or breast can be physically demanding as it creates regular sleep disruptions, particularly in the first months of a child's life. Paid maternity leave would allow women the time and financial security to take time out of the workforce to establish and maintain breastfeeding. This would have significant health and welfare benefits for women and children, as well as broader benefits for the community.

HREOC notes that allowing a period of time to establish breastfeeding does not eliminate the need to ensure that women who return to work are able to continue to breastfeed their child. Employers are encouraged to support women who want to combine breastfeeding and work.

7.3 Enabling women to combine work and family

Paid maternity leave is part of the broader issue of enabling women to better combine their work and family responsibilities. Paid maternity leave allows women the choice to take time out from the workforce at the birth of a child without undue financial pressure.

Women retain the major responsibility for caring for children, as well as participating in increasing numbers in the paid workforce. Men have not altered their working hours in ways that allow them to take responsibility for the care of their children. [131]

Bowman and Russell [132] cite various studies into the division of family responsibilities between men and women and conclude that

  • the division of labour remains very rigid;
  • women do 90 per cent of childcare tasks and 70 per cent of all family work; and
  • only 15 per cent of fathers are highly participative in terms of time on family work.

The introduction of paid maternity leave would provide support for women who wish or need to continue working following the birth of a child. It would provide support at a crucial time and would increase the options available to these women.

7.4 Direct cost of children

Children impose an additional economic burden on household finances. Household Expenditure Surveys conducted by the ABS suggest that a family budget for a two-parent family needs to increase by about 18 per cent to accommodate a first child without diminution in standard of living. A second child requires an overall 25 per cent increase in expenditure and a third child requires an overall 33 per cent increase to maintain a family standard of living. For single parent families the corresponding figures are 22 per cent for one child and 35 per cent for two or three children. [133]

Families will experience a decline in standard of living following childbirth unless income is increased or substantial savings are held. This decline in income is even greater when combined with the fact that most women in paid employment forego income in order to take time out of the workforce at the birth of a child.

Paid maternity leave would assist with the costs of having children, and in particular the increased costs faced at the time of the birth of a child, in addition to providing some compensation for income foregone by those mothers in paid work.

7.5 Economic security for women

Economic security for women includes both the adequacy of their current income and their access to adequate financial support over their lifetime. Paid maternity leave is one of many possible means of promoting women's economic security, based on encouraging and enabling women's labour force participation. Paid maternity leave will not assist the economic security of those women who choose to care for their children full time over a number of years. Separate measures, such as retraining at the time of return to work and appropriate government assistance during time out of the labour force to raise children are also required.

Paid maternity leave may assist women to maintain their attachment to the labour force and hence contribute to improving their long term economic security. A strong labour force attachment can reduce the likelihood of long term unemployment, reduce the likelihood of welfare dependence and also improve women's retirement savings.

7.5.1 Assisting labour force attachment

Maintaining a woman's labour market attachment following maternity leave will assist her in re-entering the labour force, improve her job opportunities and assist with ensuring long term economic security for herself and her family. While many women will choose to remain out of the labour force to provide full time care for their children, this does not discount the fact that many women will need or choose to return to work, and that there are long term economic benefits for many women attached to returning to paid work.

Depending on the structure of a paid maternity leave system, workforce incentives will operate in a number of ways.

  • A payment that is limited to women in employment would encourage more women to work up to the point of childbirth in order to qualify for the payment. This increased engagement with work may also result in more women returning to work following child birth.
  • Currently women with less than 12 months employment with a current employer are likely to have to resign in order to take a period of extended leave at the birth of a child. Introducing a system of paid maternity leave that allowed these women to return to the position they held prior to taking leave would mean that a proportion of these women would not resign and would return to work following the paid maternity leave period.
  • A period of paid maternity leave would allow women to ameliorate the costs associated with leaving the workforce and may reduce the need for financially motivated lifestyle changes. As such, more women would be assisted to make the transition back to work following maternity leave.
  • Introducing an employer funded maternity leave payment, one of the options discussed in Chapter 12, would generate goodwill between the employee and employer and create loyalty. This would provide an incentive for a proportion of women to return to work.

Structuring a paid maternity leave system to assist women to maintain their labour force attachment will particularly benefit women whose attachment to the workforce is marginal, who are in low income households and at risk of poverty and who wish or need to return to work.

Women who return to work relatively early in their child's life are more likely to retain their skill and expertise and therefore continue to earn reasonable incomes. Fagan and Rubery have found, based on cross-national studies, that women who continue to work during the pre-school years of their first child are more likely to remain in continuous employment thereafter. [134] This is important in the absence of more extensive retraining programmes for women returning to work.

Research on women who take extended career breaks found that women who take time out from the paid workforce experience a significant decline in skills. [135] By the time many mothers return to work, when their youngest child is five years of age, [136] the loss of skills and labour force experience may have begun to limit their opportunities.

In addition, for employees returning from maternity leave, negotiating changes to working hours is likely to be easier with an employer with whom a woman has an existing employment relationship rather than negotiating specific hours at the interview stage for a new job.

Labour market attachment gains increased significance when considered in the context of changes to the Australian labour market, and in particular, the significant and lasting increases in the rate of unemployment and the numbers of people receiving government income support since the early 1970s. [137]

In its 2000 Interim Report, the Reference Group on Welfare Reform noted the increasing incidence of jobless families in Australia, a trend which is particularly evident over the past few decades.

In June 1999, some 160,000 couples with dependent children had neither parent in paid work. At the same time, there were about 280,000 jobless lone parent households. These households contained around 860,000 children, representing 17 per cent of dependent children in Australia. Data collected by the OECD (1998) indicate that Australia has one of the highest levels of joblessness among families with children in OECD countries. [138]

Evidence shows that, in the current labour market, once labour market attachment has been lost the unemployed are likely to become either long term unemployed or revolve through a series of short term jobs. [139] Many of the new jobs are 'precarious', that is temporary, casual or intermittent. An ABS longitudinal study found a large amount of labour market 'churning', where people remain in the labour market but are cycled in and out of work without finding a long term secure job. [140] The ABS found that in May 1995, the number of job seekers totalled 875 000. [141] Between May 1995 and September 1996, about 70 per cent of these people worked for some period of time, however about two thirds of these jobs were casual and 90 per cent were short term. [142]

International evidence

While providing women in Australia with up to 12 months unpaid leave is demonstrably able to increase labour market attachment, evidence for the role of paid maternity leave in enhancing labour market attachment is best evidenced by international experience.

International evidence from the United Kingdom and the USA supports increased rates of return to work where paid maternity leave is provided.



A major study of maternity leave and employee decision making in the United Kingdom found that the more generous the pay for maternity leave the higher the proportion of women who chose to return to work. [143] The United Kingdom has government funded paid maternity leave of between 18 and 29 weeks depending on length of service, which may be supplemented by employer payments at their discretion.

The research found that women receiving additional payments from employers were almost three times as likely to return to work for the same employer as women receiving minimum entitlements. Women receiving additional periods of maternity leave, but at the basic level of payments, were almost twice as likely to return to work as women entitled to the minimum period of leave. The entitlement to additional benefits was a greater predictor of return to work for women having a second or subsequent child. [144]

The USA Commission on Leave was created with the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act 1993 and was given the task of examining the Act's impact on workers and employers. The Commission undertook two major research surveys to provide statistically valid and reliable information on the national impact of these policies. The final report of the Commission on Leave in 1996 found that

[e]mployees in the lowest family income category who had returned to work (less than $20,000 annually), and leave-takers with no wage replacement at all, are most likely not to return to work to the same employer…. This suggests that a leave-taker's level of compensation influences the decision about whether to return to work. Conversely, employees with higher family incomes, working at covered worksites and receiving full wage replacement are more likely to return to their same employers. Not surprisingly, then, salaried employees and unionised workers are more likely to return to their employers.

Leave-takers with full wage replacement are far more likely than those with either partial or no wage replacement to return to their employers after leave. Indeed, 94.2 per cent of those leave-takers who were fully paid, (compared with 73.8 per cent of those who were partially paid and 76.5 per cent of those who were not paid at all) returned to their same employer after taking leave. [145]

Australian evidence

There is no equivalent research on this issue in Australia. However, as the following examples show, a number of individual organisations record substantial increases in return to work rates following the introduction of paid maternity or parental leave entitlements, suggesting that the United Kingdom results would be equally applicable to Australia.

  • Westpac Banking Corporation introduced six weeks paid maternity leave in 1995. The proportion of women returning to work from maternity leave increased from 32 per cent in 1995 to 53 per cent in 1997. [146]
  • AMP reported an increase in retention rates from 52 per cent in 1992 to 90 per cent in 1997, following the introduction of paid parental leave. [147]
  • Hewlett Packard reported a greater than 90 per cent retention rate for staff returning from paid maternity leave. [148]
  • SC Johnson recorded 100 per cent return rates since introducing paid maternity leave. [149]
7.5.2 Loss of earnings

It is usual for mothers to forego earnings as a result of absences from the labour force. For 1997, Gray and Chapman calculated the foregone lifetime post-tax earnings of women as $162 000 for the first child. [150] Additional losses of $12 000 and $15 000 come with a second and third child respectively. [151] This loss is less than that projected in 1986, which Gray and Chapman attributed to increasing numbers of women with small children being in paid employment and the use of maternity leave. [152]

A recent United Kingdom study found that low skilled mothers forego substantially greater amounts of lifetime earnings than mid and highly skilled women. The study claimed that motherhood reduced a low skilled woman's earnings by more than the gender gap attributable to lesser hours, education and sex discrimination. [153]

For the young woman deciding on maternity, this loss of income constitutes a cost to be weighed against the benefits of motherhood. Paid maternity leave reduces the amount of lost earnings by providing direct compensation for a specified period, and by increasing women's attachment to the labour force following the birth of a child through assisting return to work. [154]

7.5.3 Retirement incomes

Maternity leave paid to employees who return to the workforce, perhaps after some additional period of unpaid leave, enables women to maintain continuous connection with the workforce during a period of time that is not only their prime child-bearing years but also important working years. Returning to work enables mothers to retain continuity of superannuation coverage and to provide more adequately for their retirement years. As provision for retirement has become increasingly the responsibility of the individual, continuity of coverage has risen in importance.

This is not to suggest that women must return to the paid workforce as quickly as possible for the sake of their superannuation. There are a number of superannuation alternatives currently available to women and couples that are designed to enable women to return to paid work over a period of time taking into account their family responsibilities. However, such measures have largely been unsuccessful in addressing women's limited superannuation. For example, voluntary spouse contributions and the associated tax rebate have had a minimal impact on women's superannuation due to a much lower take up rate than projected. [155] Alternative policy approaches should be developed to ensure the adequacy of women's retirement savings.

Compulsory superannuation contributions have dramatically increased the number of Australians with superannuation. ABS estimates suggest that 78 per cent of men aged 15-69 have superannuation. For women, 71 per cent of those aged 15-69 have some level of superannuation. [156]

Despite relatively high levels of superannuation coverage, women are substantially more likely to have lower levels of superannuation savings than men. Chart 7.1 shows the proportion of men and women with particular total superannuation balances in June 2000.

Chart 7.1
Chart 7.1 - Total Superannuation Balance - Males and Females. If you require this informaiton in a more accessible format please email webfeedback@humanrights.gov.au
Source: ABS 6360.0 Superannuation: Coverage and financial characteristics Australia April - June 2000.

Projections suggest that women will continue to have substantially lower superannuation balances than men. Clare recently reported various research findings demonstrating that women's current and projected superannuation savings are significantly less than men's. One estimate is that an average balance for men in 2004 will be $74 000, while for women it will be $40 000. Projected to 2019 the figures for men and women were $121 000 and $77 000 respectively. [157]

Clare attributes these lesser contributions to a range of factors including women's lower labour force participation rate and part time employment. He calculates that

[w]omen currently work 35.8 per cent of total paid hours, up only 0.2 percentage points from five years earlier. For those hours they receive an hourly pay rate on average of only 0.89 times that for men. Putting the two together suggests that employer contributions for women are at most 31.8 per cent of those currently being received by men. [158]

Loss of superannuation contributions for women during periods of unpaid maternity leave also contributes to women's lower superannuation levels.

Under the current system, limited labour market attachment and lower earnings following the arrival of children have a significant negative impact on the accumulation of superannuation. Women's lack of sufficient superannuation to support themselves in retirement means that they are more likely to be reliant on government income support during their retirement years - involving an increased cost for government and in general a lower standard of living than for self-funded retirees. By enabling more women to maintain their labour force attachment, paid maternity leave could assist in addressing limited retirement savings by many women.


QUESTIONS

Q.17 Do you consider that a paid maternity leave scheme would provide appropriate support for women and families with new babies?
Q.18 Are there particular design elements for a paid maternity leave system that would be crucial for providing appropriate support for women and families? If so, what are they?
Q.19 Are you aware of any additional international or Australian evidence or studies that document the effectiveness of paid maternity leave in supporting women and families?

CHAPTER 8: Objective - benefits to employers

8.1 Commercial benefits of paid maternity leave

8.1.1 Introduction

While there are significant social and family based benefits to be gained from providing support to new mothers, employers also benefit from supporting their employees to accommodate work and family responsibilities. Apart from increased productivity through enhanced employee loyalty, research shows that paid parental leave can reduce attrition rates, particularly for women, and encourage women to return to the workforce earlier. For many employers this enables them to retain women staff who may otherwise have decided not to return to work.

8.1.2 The business case for paid maternity leave

In establishing the business case for paid maternity leave, it is necessary to consider both the costs and benefits to employers of any system. Introducing paid maternity leave would impose an additional cost on employment in Australia that would need to be borne by government, individual employers or spread across all employers. [159] A system that required individual employers to pay the full cost of paid maternity leave for their employees may result in some employers paying a greater cost than the benefit they receive, depending on the nature of their business.

Employers often cite the importance of attracting and retaining good employees as the basis for implementing paid parental leave policies. A case study of Australian organisations providing paid maternity leave found that the decision to introduce paid maternity leave was linked to the organisation's business goals of providing excellent service to clients by retaining highly skilled employees and reducing the costs of recruitment. [160] Other business rationales for introducing paid maternity leave included being recognised as an employer of choice and the benefit this has in attracting skilled staff, which is crucial to competitiveness. [161]

The cost of replacing a staff member is significant. Costs include the following. [162]

  • Separation costs - undertaking exit interviews and administrative costs associated with deletion of the employee from the payroll, separation certificates and references and completing personnel files.
  • Replacement costs - including time taken to place an advertisement, human resources time in preparing the advertisement and responding to telephone enquiries about the advertisement, cost of placing the advertisement, cost of short listing applicants and interviewing costs.
  • Training costs - induction training and training in the organisation's systems and processes to specific professional training. There is a reduced investment return to employers for training provided to an employee who does not return from maternity leave.
  • Loss of productivity - this component factors in the greater efficiency an experienced employee contributes to the organisation compared with a new employee. Other things being equal, a new employee does not perform at optimal efficiency immediately. The period over which an employee builds his or her skills to that of an experienced employee is a period of loss to the employer.

Other costs may include the extra cost of providing temporary cover to absorb the workload of the departing employee until a replacement is found and lost business opportunities because of customer relationships with that staff member.

Obviously the overall cost will vary according to the organisation, the length of service of the employee concerned, the skills required of the employee and other industry or occupational factors. Various organisations have attempted to quantify these costs with the following estimates being offered.

  • In 1996 Westpac Banking Corporation calculated that replacement costs were $40 000 for a staff member with eight years experience and $60 000 for a senior manager. [163] As the age at which women have their first child increases, replacement costs are likely to rise.
  • Even in less skilled positions, recruitment costs are significant. A major retailer has found that it costs a minimum of $3 800 to recruit a new full time employee. [164] This does not include calculations for training costs or loss of experience.
  • It is estimated that the cost to retailers of staff turnover is $397 million, including training, lost productivity and recruitment and separation costs. [165]

Paid maternity leave increasingly provides a competitive advantage to those firms who are able to afford to offer such a scheme. In the absence of a national system of paid leave, a number of Australian companies are already using paid maternity leave to attract and retain high quality staff. Women anticipating child bearing, who have significant qualifications and experience or who work in areas of labour shortages, may increasingly seek out employers providing paid leave entitlements.

This not only widens the pay gap but also the social advantage gap between skilled and unskilled workers and between those in highly competitive versus those in less competitive industries and companies.

For those companies, in particular small businesses, with a high component of operating costs tied up in wages and operating on narrow profit margins, employer-provided paid maternity leave may disproportionately affect wage costs and in some cases be unaffordable. Organisations unable to afford paid maternity leave will be more likely to have women resign or not return to work following maternity leave. It may also make it more difficult for them to recruit women.

Mixed views were expressed about this issue in consultations with the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. While some employer groups expressed concern about the industrial disadvantage currently experienced, others considered this was an acceptable part of the competitive environment. Other groups were more concerned with the impact of non-mandated paid leave on the widening social support gap between skilled and unskilled workers.


QUESTIONS

Q.20 Do you agree that a paid maternity leave scheme would provide commercial benefits for employers?
Q.21 To what extent would paid maternity leave create workforce incentives for women to maintain labour force attachment?
Q.22 Are there particular design elements for a paid maternity leave system that would ensure commercial benefits to employers? If so, what are they?
Q.23 Are you aware of any additional international or Australian evidence or studies that document the commercial benefits to employers of paid maternity leave?

CHAPTER 9: Objective - benefits to society

9.1 Economic benefits to society

In addition to the economic benefits for individuals and employers outlined in Chapters 7 and 8, continued labour force participation by women following the birth of a child also has economic benefits for the community at large. This section outlines those economic benefits.

9.1.1 Economic growth

Developing and maintaining a highly skilled workforce contributes to Australia's international competitiveness. Increased labour market participation and the retention of skilled employees raises productivity levels for both individual enterprises and the economy more broadly, which in turn contributes to economic growth.

The importance of human capital for Australia's economic growth has been acknowledged by both government and business groups. For example, the Business Council of Australia recently commented that

…the skills, ingenuity and knowhow of our people will be the primary determinant of our social, political and economic success. [166]

In the longer term, Australia's ageing population will place greater importance on ensuring maximum levels of workforce participation by those of workforce age. In the absence of increased fertility or an age specific immigration programme this will be necessary to ensure the adequacy of the tax base and support the increase in the ratio of dependents to contributors.

To the extent that paid maternity leave encourages women to return to work it will contribute to improved productivity and economic growth. The potential contribution is even greater when the emergence of professional women as a significant proportion of the available skilled labour pool is considered. At present 25.3 per cent of women in the workforce are managers, administrators or professionals. [167]

9.1.2 Return on investment in education and training

Women work for a combination of financial, social and personal reasons. Many have invested years and considerable money in their education and training and expect to earn a reasonable return on this investment through their participation in paid work. In addition to this personal investment, there is also a substantial community investment in education and training, with significant public funds being required. In 2000, women made up 57.9 per cent of all bachelor degree commencements, and the ABS found that females made up 45.8 per cent of Australians with post-school qualifications. [168]

Current maternity arrangements often do not enable women to derive the same level of return from their professional investment as men. In particular the absence of paid maternity leave constitutes a significant amount of foregone income, as does the decision to leave the workforce to care for children. Women may choose to invest in their careers and deny themselves motherhood in order to maximise their return. Their decision will be based on balancing a number of economic considerations against the personal fulfilment and rewards of motherhood. Alternatively, women may under-invest in their education and training despite their abilities, resulting in a loss for both themselves and society.

9.1.3 Return to government

Paid maternity leave is already available to most federal public servants. Extending it to the private sector would constitute a business subsidy. Extending it to all women with children would constitute a welfare and business measure. The total cost of the subsidy would depend on eligibility and the level of payment.

The benefit of paid maternity leave to government lies in the provision of an equitable measure that supports the decision to combine work and family being made by an increasing number of Australian families.

Depending on the nature and duration of the paid leave, women will be able to take appropriate time from work during those first vital months of a child's life leading to potential savings in health and welfare expenditure.

A means-tested payment would limit the cost to government and may provide better targeting in the case of limited government funding. A non-means tested payment would recognise that a woman, whatever her family's income, needs to be able to make a real choice between paid work and remaining with her infant during the first few months of life.

Longer term implications of a paid maternity leave scheme that encourages greater female attachment to the workforce include improved taxation revenues and reduced retirement welfare expenditure. Self-funded retirement is more possible for women who retain their attachment to the workforce. Welfare support for families during periods of crisis or breakdown is also likely to be reduced if women have remained in some form of paid employment. Costs involved in retraining and reskilling women to return to the workforce after periods of absence would also be reduced.

9.2 Social benefits

Encouraging and assisting parents to raise their children has significant social benefits. These include ensuring the ongoing viability and social cohesion of communities. The social importance of supporting maternity and parenting is recognised in a range of international instruments, as well as being well supported in domestic legislation and programmes.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) considers that 'the healthy development of children is crucial to the future well-being of any society'. [169]

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CROC) recognises the importance of and social responsibility for children. Australia is amongst the 191 countries that have ratified this convention. CROC establishes the human rights of children, and the role of government in supporting and promoting these rights. CROC recognises the primary role of parents in raising children, and obliges governments to support parents in this role. [170]

The social significance of maternity is also included in the preamble as a foundation of CEDAW.

The Federal Government has recognised the importance of supporting maternity and families through legislation, direct payments and programmes. For example, the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy 'focuses on community involvement in strengthening families and communities' by providing funding for community level projects. [171]

Paid maternity leave is one possible mechanism for recognising and supporting the social benefit of maternity and increasing women's choices around childbearing.

9.3 National fertility and population policy

Australia's birth rate is currently below replacement rate. There is a view that the declining birth rate is in part the result of the financial, professional and social disadvantage encountered by families. It is also the consequence of the greater opportunities provided to women, resulting in maternity being only one of a number of life options available to them. Having children, if not avoided altogether, is often delayed. In addition, extended periods of education and training, now lasting until young people are well into their twenties, also delays the onset of family formation for both men and women. This further contributes to a reduction in the number of children born to each family over a given period.

A declining birth rate has a range of negative implications for the long term wealth and prosperity of Australia.

This section provides an overview of current fertility trends in Australia, outlines the significance of these trends, and considers ways of addressing the declining birth rate.

9.3.1 Current trends in fertility

In 2000 there were 249 600 births in Australia, [172] representing a fertility rate of 1.75, [173] down from 3.6 in 1961. [174]

The median age of Australian mothers has risen from 26.3 years in 1978 to 29.8 years in 2000. [175] In 2000, women were most likely to have children between the ages of 30 and 34. [176] A significant majority of children are born to mothers aged 25-34. [177] The most significant drop over the past forty years has been in births to women aged 20-24. [178]

Three quarters of Australia's total birth rate is accounted for by first and second births; 43 per cent were first births, and 32 per cent were second births, indicating that the majority of women who are mothers will at most have two children. [179]

The fertility levels of women also appear to be inversely related to their attachment to the labour force, educational attainment and income, with this relationship strongest among younger women. [180] For women with these characteristics there is most likely to be a significant opportunity cost in leaving the workplace, even if only temporarily, to have a child.

9.3.2 Significance of the fertility rate

Projections suggest that the natural increase in population in Australia will begin to fall in the 2030s. Immigration at current rates will only keep Australia's population growing for about 20 years beyond this. [181] In a stable population with a total fertility rate of 1.7 per cent, population size would drop to 50 per cent of its initial size in a 100 year period. Low birth rates also imply that as the population decreases, it ages.

The ageing of the population and the increase in the number of non-working Australians compared to those in the workforce raises issues for long term social support. The number of people in the tax paying ages will shrink and bear a higher tax burden to support those in the 65 years and over group.

Strategies for addressing the consequences of this demographic shift to a declining and older population include

  • providing better support for families so that they choose to have more children;
  • extending working life spans;
  • encouraging labour force participation of those of workforce age; and
  • increasing inward migration (often seen only as a temporary solution).

These strategies can assist by either raising the size of population or reducing the dependency ratio so that there is a higher ratio of tax payers to users of social services and consequently a more adequate provision of essential government services.

9.3.3 Addressing the declining birth rate

As noted above, one option for addressing the declining fertility rate is to consider ways in which society can better support families so that they choose to have more children. This approach recognises the social benefit of children and maternity and the community's concomitant responsibility to provide some assistance and support for families raising children.

Economic, psychological, social and cultural reasons are all important determinants of whether people choose to have children. However, as McDonald has argued, 'if the economic costs of children rise, some individual psychological thresholds will be crossed and decisions will be made not to have the next child'. [182] History bears this out; fertility rates declined during the Great Depression and rose to such record levels during a sustained period of post war prosperity that the period became known as the Baby Boom.

Paid maternity leave is one possible mechanism for ensuring that economic considerations do not prevent families from choosing to have children and better enabling women to combine work and family as they choose.

While significant attention is now given to work and family policies, raising a family and working continues to present challenges and problems for women. While workplace culture has changed significantly with the introduction of anti-discrimination legislation and the dramatic rise in women's workforce participation, direct support for women with children is limited.

McDonald has written extensively on this issue [183] and in light of international comparisons argues that in societies that offer women comparatively equal educational and employment opportunities to men but do not facilitate continued opportunities once women have children, women will restrict the number of children that they have. [184] Women will choose not to have children because of the opportunity cost involved. This is reflected in the lower birth rate for employed women in Australia. Systems that fail to accommodate continued opportunities can include taxation arrangements that penalise second income earners and limited access to family friendly workplace arrangements.

Other commentators, such as Anne Manne, argue that women are most likely to have children when they can provide care themselves. [185] Large government investment in subsidising work and family policies, such as child care, she argues is a high price to pay for marginal increases in fertility rates.

It is difficult to argue that a period of paid maternity leave alone will enable more women to choose to exercise their right to have children. A period of weeks compared with the long years of financial dependency is not necessarily significant. It is most likely to provide the necessary support to those women for whom remaining in paid work is essential. For those couples who save money in order to afford each child, a period of paid leave enables them to bring forward their decision to do so and may encourage some to have the additional child they had wanted. As part of a suite of family-enabling work provisions however, paid maternity leave would also play a useful role in enabling more women to effectively combine work and motherhood.


QUESTIONS

Q.24 Do you agree that a paid maternity leave scheme would provide benefits to society?
Q.25 Are there particular design elements for a paid maternity leave scheme that would be crucial for imparting social benefits? If so, what are they?
Q.26 Are you aware of any additional international or Australian evidence or studies that document the social benefits of paid maternity leave?

99. The relevant sections are s 5, which makes sex discrimination unlawful and s 7 which makes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy unlawful. See s 7A for discrimination on the grounds of family responsibilities. Family responsibilities discrimination is only unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Act where it involves dismissal.

100. See for example sch 14 cl 12 Workplace Relations Act 1996 (Cth). This Act only applies to full time and part time employees. Casual employees may have these rights under state legislation or awards.

101. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Annual Report 2000 - 2001 HREOC Sydney 2001, 73. Note that, in addition, many complaints of family responsibilities are brought as indirect sex discrimination complaints under the Sex Discrimination Act.

102. s 7B Sex Discrimination Act.

103. Therese MacDermott "Who's rocking the cradle?" (1996) 21(5) Alternative Law Journal 207-212 at 211.

104. International Labour Organization Maternity Report V(1) Protection at Work Revision of the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised) 1952 (No. 103) and Recommendation 1952 (No. 95) International Labour Conference 87th Session Geneva 1999, 5; and see also Women's Legal Services Network (submission no. 94) in Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Pregnant and Productive: It's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant HREOC Sydney 2001, 231.

105. See for example Australian Council of Trade Unions (submission no. 59) in Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Pregnant and Productive: It's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant HREOC Sydney 2001, 231.

106. International Labour Organization Maternity Report V(1) Protection at Work Revision of the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised) 1952 (No. 103) and Recommendation 1952 (No. 95) International Labour Conference 87th Session Geneva 1999, 31, emphasis added.

107. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Pregnant and Productive: It's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant HREOC Sydney 2001, 178.

108. B Curtis AMP's Corporate Diversity Unpublished speech delivered at Transforming Management Conference

18 September 2001.

109. ABS 6361.0 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation April - June 2000 unpublished data.

110. Australian Council of Trade Unions Job Security and Casual Work Fact Sheet Australian Council of Trade Unions Melbourne 2001.

111. See the discussion at Section 2.4.

112. Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business Work and Family State of Play 1998 Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 1998, 28-29.

113. ABS 6254.0 Career Experience Australia November 1998, 10-11.

114. ABS 6254.0 Career Experience Australia November 1998, 10-11.

115. ABS 6361.0 Survey of Employment Arrangements and Superannuation April - June 2000 unpublished data.

116. Health aspects of maternity leave and maternity protection as discussed in a statement to the International Labour Conference 2 June 2000: www.who.int/reproductive health/publicatins/French_FPP_93_3/Health_aspects_of_maternity_leave.en.html

117. Health aspects of maternity leave and maternity protection as discussed in a statement to the International Labour Conference 2 June 2000: www.who.int/reproductive health/publicatins/French_FPP_93_3/Health_aspects_of_maternity_leave.en.html

118. International Labour Organization Maternity Report V(1) Protection at Work Revision of the Maternity Protection Convention(Revised) 1952 (No.103) and Recommendation 1952 (No.95) International Labour Conference 87th Session Geneva 1999, 7.

119. International Labour Organization C183 Maternity Protection Convention Geneva 15 June 2000 and International Labour Organization R191 Maternity Protection Recommendation Geneva 15 June 2000. Further detail on this Convention is at Chapter 3.

120. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Pregnant and Productive: It's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant HREOC Sydney 1999, 178.

121. Health aspects of maternity leave and maternity protection as discussed in a statement to the International Labour Conference 2 June 2000: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publicatins/French_FPP_93_3/Health_aspec…

122. Australian Medical Association Position Statement: Breast-Feeding: domino.ama.com.au/AMAWeb/Position.nsf

123. Department of Health and Aged Care National Breastfeeding Strategy Summary Report Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 2001, 2.

124. Jane Svensson et al Breastfeeding and You: A handbook for antenatal educators Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 2000, 7.

125. ABS data on breastfeeding from the 1995 National Health Survey AGPS Canberra 1995 quoted in Jane Svensson et al Breastfeeding and You: A handbook for antenatal educators Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 2000, 7.

126. Department of Industrial Relations Guide to Combining Breastfeeding and Work: www.dewrsb.gov.au/workplacerelations/workandfamily/breastfeedingguide/d…

127. G Stamp and C Crother "Breastfeeding - Why start? Why stop? A prospective study of South Australian women" (1995) 3(1) Breastfeeding Review 18.

128. S Cox and C Turnbull "Choosing to breastfeed or bottle-feed - An analysis of factors which influence choice" (1994) 11(10) Breastfeeding Review 459-464.

129. K Auerbach and E Guss "Maternal employment and breastfeeding" (1984) 138 American Journal of Diseases of Children 959.

130. K Auerbach and E Guss "Maternal employment and breastfeeding" (1984) 138 American Journal of Diseases of Children 960.

131. Belinda Probert Grateful Slaves or Self Made Women: A matter of choice or policy? Clare Burton Memorial Lecture Melbourne 2001, 12-13.

132. Lyndy Bowman and Graeme Russell Work and Family: Current thinking, research and practice Macquarie Research Limited Sydney 2000, 16.

133. Cited in Rebecca Valenzuela "Costs of children in Australian households" (1999) 53 Family Matters 71-76 at 73-74. See also Lucy Sullivan Taxing the Family Centre for Independent Studies Policy Monograph 50 Sydney 2001, 47.

134. C Fagan and J Rubery "Transitions between family formation and paid employment" in G Schmid et al (eds) International Handbook of Labour Market Policy and Evaluation Edward Elgar Cheltenham 1997, 348-378 at 350.

135. Russell J Rimmer and Shelia Rimmer More Brilliant Careers: The effect of career breaks on women's employment Department of Employment, Education and Training Canberra 1994.

136. See the statistics on return to work in Appendix A.

137. Bond and Whiteford in Reference Group on Welfare Reform Participation Support for a More Equitable Society: The interim report of the reference group on welfare reform Department of Family and Community Services Canberra 2000, 10.

138. Reference Group on Welfare Reform Participation Support for a More Equitable Society: The Interim Report of the Reference Group on Welfare Reform Department of Family and Community Services Canberra 2000, 6.

139. ABS SEUPDATE Edition 3 Canberra 1997 quoted in Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training Australia at Work Prentice Hall Sydney 1999, 133.

140. ABS SEUPDATE Edition 3 Canberra 1997 quoted in Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training Australia at Work Prentice Hall Sydney 1999, 133.

141. ABS Australian National Accounts Canberra 1997 quoted in Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training Australia at Work Prentice Hall Sydney 1999, 133.

142. ABS Australian National Accounts Canberra 1997 quoted in Australian Centre for Industrial Relations Research and Training Australia at Work Prentice Hall Sydney 1999, 133.

143. Sonali Deraniyagala and Steve Lissenburgh The Determinants of Women's Return to Work: Behaviour after childbirth and the role of maternity benefits Women's Unit UK Cabinet Office London October 2000, 5.

144. Sonali Deraniyagala and Steve Lissenburgh The Determinants of Women's Return to Work: Behaviour after childbirth and the role of maternity benefits Women's Unit UK Cabinet Office London October 2000, 4-6.

145. The Family Leave Commission A Workable Balance: Report to congress on family and medical leave policies Family Leave Commission San Francisco 1996, 114.

146. Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business Best Practice Work and Family Initiatives Commonwealth of Australia Canberra February 2000, 58.

147. George Trumbell "Creating a culture that's good for business" in EM Davis and V Pratt (eds) Making the Link: Affirmative action and industrial relations no. 8 Labour-Management Studies Foundation Sydney 1997, 31-33 at 32.

148. Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business ACCI National Work and Family Award Winners and Finalists: Business benefits of paid maternity leave Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 2001, 2.

149. Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business ACCI National Work and Family Award Winners and Finalists: Business benefits of paid maternity leave Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 2001, 2.

150. Bruce Chapman and Matthew Gray "Foregone earnings from child rearing: Changes between 1986 and 1997" (2001) 58 Family Matters 4 - 9 at 5.

151. Bruce Chapman and Matthew Gray "Foregone earnings from child rearing: Changes between 1986 and 1997" (2001) 58 Family Matters 4 - 9 at 5.

152. Bruce Chapman and Matthew Gray "Foregone earnings from child rearing: Changes between 1986 and 1997" (2001) 58 Family Matters 4 - 9 at 9.

153. Katherine Rake Women's Income Over the Lifetime: A Report to the Women's Unit Women's Unit UK Cabinet Office London 2000.

154. See for example in the UK context as discussed in Sonali Deraniyagala and Steve Lissenburgh The Determinants of Women's Return to Work Behaviour after Childbirth and the Role of Maternity Benefits Women's Unit UK Cabinet Office London October 2000, 5.

155. Ross Clare Women and Superannuation paper presented to the Ninth Annual Colloquium of Superannuation Researchers UNSW School of Economic and Actuarial Studies, Association of Superannuation Funds Australia 2001, 15.

156. ABS 6360.0 Superannuation: Coverage and financial characteristics Australia April - June 2000, 4.

157. Ross Clare Women and Superannuation paper presented to the Ninth Annual Colloquium of Superannuation Researchers UNSW School of Economic and Actuarial Studies, Association of Superannuation Funds Australia 2001, 22.

158. Ross Clare Women and Superannuation paper presented to the Ninth Annual Colloquium of Superannuation Researchers UNSW School of Economic and Actuarial Studies, Association of Superannuation Funds Australia 2001, 23.

159. See discussion of options Chapter 12.

160. Kerry Brown and Rachel Wynd "Australian employers' motivations for providing paid maternity leave" papers from the AIRAANZ Conference Crossing Borders: Employment, work markets and social justice across time, discipline and place New South Wales 2001 volume 1, 357-363 at 362. The organisations in this study were ABN AMRO, Bain International, SAS Institute of Australia and St George Bank.

161. Kerry Brown and Rachel Wynd "Australian employers' motivations for providing paid maternity leave" papers from the AIRAANZ Conference Crossing Borders: Employment, work markets and social justice across time, discipline and place New South Wales 2001 volume 1, 357-363 at 362.

162. Derived from Department of Industrial Relations The Business Case for a Family Friendly Workplace Department of Industrial Relations Canberra 1996; Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency website www.eowa.gov.au and Department of Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business Guide to Evaluating Work and Family Strategies Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 1997.

163. NSW Department of Industrial Relations The Business Case for a Family Friendly Workplace DIR Sydney 1996, 11.

164. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission consultation with Phil Naylor, CEO Australian Retailers Association 19 September 2001; Australian Retailers Association, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency Balancing the Till: Increasing profits and building a better workforce Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 2002, 11.

165. Australian Retailers Association, Department of Employment and Workplace Relations and Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency Balancing the Till: Increasing profits and building a better workforce Commonwealth of Australia Canberra 2002, 7.

John Schubert Towards a Fair, Clean, Safe and Prosperous Australia Speech delivered at the Business Council of Australia Annual Dinner Sydney

166. October 11 2001: www.bca.com.au/upload/speech_j_schubert_agm_2001.doc.

167. ABS 6203.0 Labour Force Australia September 2001, 51.

168. ABS 4102.0 Australian Social Trends 2001 Australia 2001, 92.

169. UNICEF Why Make a Special Case for Children?: www.unicef.org/crc/specialcase.htm.

170. art 5 and art 18 Convention on the Rights of the Child GA Res 44/25 20 November 1989.

171. Department of Family and Community Services Stronger Families and Communities Strategy: Together we can make a difference: www.facs.gov.au/sfcs/images/info_dl.pdf

172. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, 8.

173. ABS 3301.0Births Australia 2000, 8.

174. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, 46.

175. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 1998, 6.

176. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, 16.

177. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, 16.

178. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, 46.

179. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, 41.

180. ABS 3301.0 Births Australia 2000, 6.

181. Allison Barnes Low Fertility: A discussion paper Department of Family and Community Services Canberra 2001, v.

182. Peter McDonald "The toolbox of public policies to impact on birth - A global view" Paper prepared for the Annual Seminar of the European Observatory on Family Matters, Low Fertility, Families and Public Policies Sevilla 15-16 September 2000, 5.

183. See for example Peter McDonald "Gender equity, social institutions and the future of birth" (2000) 17 Journal of Population Research 1-16.

184. Note that there is significant debate at the national and international level on the causes of and solutions to low fertility. For an alternative view that questions some of MacDonald's arguments see Anne Manne "Women's preferences, fertility and family policy: The case for diversity" (2001) 9(4) People and Place 6-25.

185. Anne Manne "Women's preferences, fertility and family policy: The case for diversity" (2001) 9(4) People and Place 6-25.