Sunday, March 30, 2008

That little thing called paid maternity leave

Yes, the debate continues on in Australia. While we wait, consider how we compare to the rest of the world:

- Australia and the US are alone among OECD countries in having no statutory paid maternity leave.

- French women are entitled to a year's paid leave, and across Europe, there is a growing movement to increase maternity pay.

- In Britain, women are now entitled to 39 weeks paid maternity leave, a recent increase from 26 weeks.

- Likewise, in Ireland, an increase last year saw the entitlement rise to 26 weeks.

- Mexico, Turkey, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Greece all have paid maternity leave of between 12 and 28 weeks paid at varying rates.

- Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Inceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, The Slovak Republic, Spain, and Sweden have statutory entitlements to, paid at more than 50% of earnings (in most cases up to a ceiling).

As Deborah Brennan pointed out in a paper (found on Australian Policy Online) on parental leave and child care in Australia called 'Childcare - Families that work', "European governments do not provide these types of measures because they are softer or kinder than Australian governments. Such measures are generally part of very hard-nosed calculations about precisely the kinds of issues that are driving the Rudd Government: productivity, human capital and labour force participation."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Changes to the child care tax rebate

The Child Care Tax Rebate for child care costs will increase from 30% to 50%, up to $7,500 per child; and paying the rebate quarterly, rather than annually. It is apparently not means tested.

Quarterly payments provide more timely assistance to families with their child care costs, with the first payments due from October 2008.

The Federal Government has a new website for the Office of Early Childhood Education and Child Care - - You can subscribe to an email that will provide you with updates on the latest Government initiatives relating to education and child care.

Maxine McKew is responsible for this portfolio.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Re-visiting a cover letter

How long has it been since you have written a cover letter? For most return to work parents, quite a while.

Here are some quick tips to get you back in the saddle. The letter should:
- be no more than 1 page in length
- be targeted to the position
- emphasize your experience, skills and interests which make you an ideal candidate for the position
- be written in a persuasive tone

The letter will contain 3 short paragraphs:
1. In the opening paragraph, indicate why you are writing and when and where you saw the poistion advertised.
2. In the body paragraph, emphasize the experience and skills you have that are relevant to the position. Indicate why you wish to work for the organisation; be enthusiastic and pursuasive.
3. In the final paragraph, re-state your interest and indicate what you have included with the letter. Indicate your desire to discuss your application at interview.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More on working from home

Every week I receive phone calls and emails from parents looking for work they can do from home. Finding great jobs where you can work from home is rare. Your best bet is to negotiate with your current employer because they know you and your capabilities. If you have been out of the workforce for a while, you have to work harder to get it. My key tips are:
1. Know what you are good at. Specialise in something.
2. Sell yourself. Place an advertisement in your local paper of drop flyers around your neighbourhood. All it takes ia a few clients and if you are good enough, you will get referrals.
3. Tell everyone what you want to do do - your family, friends, old work colleagues, and previous employers. Great leads often come from close to you.
4. Don't ever think that working from home is a substitute for child care.

Visit and dowload our article on Working From Home for more information (in the Recommended reading section). It will also help you to understand if you are the right type of person to work from home.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Why parents on parental leave from work have a better chance of being able to work from home

Working from home is something most of us would love to do. Being able to work part time and structure work around your family is so appealing.

Current skills shortages combined with globalisation and technological advances are changing the mindsets of organisations about working flexibly. Flexible work options such as part time work, job sharing, flexi-hours, telecommuting and working from home are becoming more prevalent in organisations.

If you are currently on maternity leave, you have a better chance of being able to work from home for part of your working week. Why? Because your manager knows you and understands the type of worker you are. Many organisations have not worked out how to measure people’s performance outside of the office walls so trust and familiarity play a significant role.

If you are not currently employed, you need to be creative in your approach. Consider securing a part time role and demonstrate your abilities before requesting the opportunity to work from home. Or you could identify your key skills and market yourself as a consultant with a home office. Often, the best leads for employment come from close to you so communicate your intentions to your friends, family, work colleagues, and local businesses. Design a flyer and hand it out.