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."

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