The latest is Maternity Leave.
Now I took advantage of Maternity Leave twice. I was entitled to 12 months off work, no pay, but my position or one of equivalent salary would be preserved for my return. Easy! Then came Paternity Leave which allows your partner and you to share care of your infant and take six months each, again, no pay but a nice way to share the load. Both of these schemes are funded wholly by the employer.
Now, with an election hovering towards the end of the year, the debate is heating up.
Our Government has announced that around 150,000 new mums and dads will be eligible for taxpayer funded paid maternity leave each year when the scheme kicks in in 2011. Parents will receive 18 weeks of paid leave at the minimum wage of $544 a week. To qualify, parents who take the leave will have to have an income of less than $150,000 and have worked at least one day a week in the 10 months leading up to their child's birth.
Parents who receive the paid leave will not be eligible for the $5000 baby bonus or family tax payments (monthly payments to help support raising children for lower income families). Yep, here in paradise, it pays to procreate.
To counter, the Opposition are offering six months' parental leave at their normal pay level, capped at an annual pay rate of $150,000 a year. Taxpayers and employers would foot the potential 2.7 billion dollar tax bill.
In government in 2002, Mr Abbott decreed that compulsory paid maternity leave would be introduced "over this government's dead body". But it seems that the Holy roller, father of an illegitimate child and the man who only last month declared that women should hang on to their virginity until marriage because it is a precious gift . . (no such advice for men) seems to have changed his tune. Apparently he has become more attuned to the needs of women. Ahhh . . . bless!
This won't be a huge election issue. Why should maternity/paternity leave be paid and why funded by business and the tax payer? If you choose to have a child, you should be financially secure enough to take the requisite time off work. You should be able to afford child care or have someone available to look after your children while you work.
Look at it this way. If you're a smoker, you're entitled to regular breaks during the day to indulge your addiction, while the rest of us (no I don't take smoke breaks at work) plot on shuffling the paper trail for what amounts to as much as an extra hour a day while our colleagues puff and chat at the bottom of the fire stairs.
Where does this policy offer any compensation or equity to those of us too old to have children, too young to have children or choose not to, or just can't, have children?
The other side of the coin is that if the employer bears the brunt of the payment and has to hire someone for the 12 month absence as well as paying the person on Maternity leave, do you think they're going to look positively on women in the 19-30 age group? Or even men in that category? Knowing that the possibility of them having children could cost an arm and a leg?
Because only women can breed, (and believe me I'm waiting for the day a man can actually deal with 9 months of pregnancy and shitting a watermelon at the end of it! come to think of it, I'd like every man under 50 to put up with the crimson wave on a monthly basis and function normally) I'm all for holding a position open, guaranteeing work upon return, subsidised, cheaper child care so that working mums can go back to work and still make a living . . . but paid maternity or paternity leave? I don't think so. We don't need more breeders, we need better leaders.
I'd rather free education, free dental, free university or my many year's of income tax to fund my retirement . .