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Working women deserve more than a welfare payment.

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Working women deserve more than a welfare payment 08/06/10

The penny dropped for many in the audience of the Diversity Council Australia debate in Sydney today where a panel argued “Not if, but how” a Paid Parental Leave scheme should best be introduced to Australia.

What many in the audience had not realised was the fact that Labor’s new Paid Parental Leave scheme is designed to be topped up by the employer offering more weeks of leave and ideally superannuation and more salary, said Dr Sharman Stone, Shadow Minister for the Status of Women and Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education and Childcare.

“The problem with this is that small and micro businesses in particular do not now offer paid parental leave in particular to low paid, casual and part-time working women. The haves and the have nots will be perpetuated by Labor’s policy.

“As well as the red tape and extra administrative costs of Labor’s new scheme is a serious worry given the employer is to become the paymaster, channelling through the Government’s contribution. Payroll tax importantly remains unresolved.

“The Coalition will not block the Labor scheme which is only offering 18 weeks leave, no superannuation and the minimum wage. The Coalition will introduce their better scheme in government.

“Women are already disadvantaged by having stop-start careers to care for their children and one of the consequences is half the superannuation of men at retirement on average. Labor’s policy perpetuates women’s poverty in old age.

“What also emerged from the debate was the need for employers to consider the type of work women return to after taking a break with their baby.

“Seventy per cent of Australian women who worked full time before the birth of their baby returned to work part time. That is what Australian women want but the stigma of part-time work must go.”