With under two days to go before Australian’s go to the polls for the Federal Election, the Liberal Party of Australia have finally released their fiscal costings and with it plans for new schemes like maternity leave. This comes with a “Do it Yourself” message to the Australian citizen to work through their numbers.
As part of the Coalition’s Policy for Women is a plan to help working mums with “A Real Paid Parental Leave Scheme”.
Maternity leave plan
The Coalition plan will fund working mums up to the tune of $75,000 dollars for a 26 week leave period. This is direct funding from the government, with no support from employers.
In addition to ongoing salary payments and superannuation, all working mums taking maternity leave from 1 July 2015, even executives earning over $150,000 will be eligible.
Supporters of the Coalition’s maternity scheme say: it is a working woman’s right.
I believe, it is a scheme to allow the wealthy to continue living a lavish lifestyle from government funds, while reducing the burden on employers.
Maternity leave a working woman’s right
The Coalition’s maternity plan states, “Paid parental leave should be a workplace entitlement not a welfare payment.” But this is not a scheme that an employer has to pay to an employee from their own revenue. This is a government-funded plan and as such, it automatically becomes a social welfare plan for all mums on maternity leave.
When the Coalition first came out with this policy just over four weeks ago, they stated that an additional tax on large corporations of 1.5% would fully fund their paid parental leave scheme. The initial funding plan that Joe Hockey announced has since been discredited.
In the release of their Fiscal Budget Impact on Thursday, it now includes $1.6M of Government spending and revenue. I’m taking a guess this is the cut of ‘waste’ the Coalition keep mentioning, but haven’t actually explained to the Australian voters. It also includes money funded by State governments, WA has already said “No.”
Should Paternity leave by part of the NES?
If it was a genuine workplace entitlement, then instead of the government paying for the scheme it would be included in the National Employment Standards (NES) as an employer’s duty.
Some corporations and private employers like Cath Ed already provide parental leave schemes for their employees. A woman on a high-end salary should be able to negotiate a parental leave scheme with their employer as part of their salary.
If the Coalition believe their scheme is a workplace entitlement and not a welfare payment, this extravagant maternity scheme should not be paid for through government funds. It should be paid by the employer as a workplace entitlement.
Instead, a female executive who earns over $150,000 as an annual salary will be given a social welfare payment of $75,000 for 26 weeks.
Do executives on grand salaries really need an extravagant government paid scheme for six months?
A woman who wants to take time off work for maternity leave, already faces discrimination in the workplace. There is no denying that a pregnant woman finds it difficult to gain employment. And Employers:
- Don’t like giving anyone time off work.
- May need to replace the position temporarily with another paid worker.
- May need to retrain the female worker on their return.
- Don’t like having to pay two salaries for the one position because an employee is away on leave.
Women are already paid less in many occupations than their equivalent male counterparts. Yet, a woman on a high-end salary generally has skills, aptitude and / or experience that the employer values. As valuable employees are harder to replace, it only makes sense that smart employers will provide incentives such as maternity leave to keep them.
An employee on a low-end salary on the other hand does not have the same leverage.
If the Coalition is serious about their scheme being a working place entitlement and not a welfare scheme for the rich than:
- The scheme would also be available to men with the exact the same conditions.
- A family should be able to choose which parent takes paternity leave.
- The scheme would be included in the NES with government assistance for small to medium-sized business.
Allowing either partner to be eligible for paternity leave can reduce discrimination in the workplace.
The Coalition is being deceitful
The Coalition is not being honest when they state this is a woman’s workplace right. Because employers don’t provide any assistance, as a government and tax funded scheme, it is a social welfare scheme for all Australian women that benefits the rich and lets employers off the hook.
The Coalition are using the scheme as desperate grab to win female voters. The ongoing sexist remarks and alienation of women made by members of the Australian Liberal Party in Parliament, especially by Tony Abbott has continued through the election.
If you are earning a considerably large salary do you need a government paid scheme to help you take maternity leave?
Think about it. Make your vote count this Saturday. Do you really want your tax money to fund maternity leave?