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Tuesday, 1 May 1973
Page: 1538


Mr Lynch asked the Minister for Labour, upon notice:

(1)   What increase in (a) the national wages bill and (b) unit labour costs will be caused by the introduction of 6 weeks maternity leave on full pay for all female wage and salary earners.

(2)   What increase in (a) the national wages bill and (b) unit labour costs will be caused by the introduction of 6 weeks maternity leave on full pay for all female wage and salary earners in the (i) Commonwealth Public Service, (ii) motor vehicle industry, (iii") fuel and power industries, (iv) iron and steel industries, (v) stevedoring industry, (vi) building and construction industry and (vii) retailing industry.

(3)   Can be say what the inflationary effects will be in respect of parts (1) and (2).


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I am informed that the answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   The necessary statistical information required to make a precise assessment of the cost of the introduction of 6 weeks maternity leave on full pay for all female wage and salary earners is not available, one of the main deficiencies being a lack of data on the number of women who leave the labour force in any one year because of pregnancy. However, on the basis of the limited statistical information available, it is extremely unlikely that the increase in unit labour costs and the national wages bill would be more than 0.1 per cent. In terms of the present wages bill, the additional cost would most likely be less than $20m.

(2)   Using the approach adopted for the estimate in (1) the approximate cost of 6 weeks maternity leave on full pay to all females employed in the Commonwealth Public Service would be of the order of Sl.Sm. The percentage addition to the national wages bill and unit labour costs would be minimal. The assumptions underlying the estimate in part (1) and for the Commonwealth Public Service become increasingly tenuous when applied to the industries mentioned in (ii) to (vii). Accordingly, and especially in view of the small magnitude of the likely cost, little purpose would be served by providing estimates.

(3)   Although because of the imprecise nature of the estimates the exact inflationary effects, if any, cannot be ascertained, the estimate provided in (1) would suggest that any overall impact would be minimal.







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