Paid maternity leave: The good, the bad, the ugly
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"In Australia’s masculine wage-earner welfare state, paid maternity leave was an employment entitlement largely ignored by government, unions and employers. Consequently, Australia lags well behind the rest of the world in providing paid maternity leave for working women. On 11 December 2002 the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) released a proposal for a national paid maternity leave scheme for Australia. This paper argues that the HREOC proposal offers a ‘safety-net’ model that is compatible with the existing industrial relations framework. Implicit in this however, is an expectation that award arbitration, enterprise bargaining and managerial prerogative will continue to be used to augment these minimalist provisions. This paper therefore sets out to examine how paid maternity leave has fared as an arbitrated, bargained or company entitlement to date. The outcomes, it is concluded, have been very uneven, ranging from the good, through to the bad, and even the ugly."