Paid Maternity Leave a Right?

One of the reasons I’m not so keen on this new push for a bill of rights:

Paid maternity leave is a basic human right, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick says.

A national scheme was long overdue and a pressing issue for the two-thirds of working women not able to access paid leave, she said.

Life, Liberty and Property… and paid maternity leave… and cheap childcare… free healthcare and education, obviously… and I reckon everyone should get one free movie pass with their tax return.

It’s funny that the “baby bonus” will now be means tested, at the same time as people are talking up paid maternity leave.  They’re so confident that they’re already haggling over how much they should get:

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry has proposed a scheme which provides 14 weeks paid leave for mothers and two weeks for the other parent.

The other parent?  Do you think they mean the father, or am I being non-PC?

The commission is also proposing that after two years’ operation, the scheme be independently reviewed and a second stage introduced, entitling mothers to a total of up to 48 weeks paid leave.

Only 48 weeks?  Surely they need a couple years – or at least until their child reaches a reasonable childcare age.

26 thoughts on “Paid Maternity Leave a Right?

  1. Paid maternity leave, a right… pain in the wallet! Who gets paid to keep finding new ‘rights’?
    As for ‘the other partner’… they might have lesbian couples in mind, and so not want to use ‘father’ or ‘husband’. You ARE non-PC! (Could we turn ‘non-PC’ into a new word, nopsey? We need something!)
    What ever happened to the right of the employer to get a good day’s work from the employees? Don’t employers have ANY rights in this day and age? None at all?

  2. Of course its a “right”. Don’t worry about the ramifications of such a socialised scheme, after all, its free !

    When people talk about “workers rights”, they talk about a set of regulations relating to conditions, hours, wages that restrict the terms of employment between an employer and employee. Its a negative freedom towards both employees and employers alike.

    Why don’t we just butcher the language further and invent “car owners rights”, like the right to pay a certain price for petrol, and the right to new freeways without tolls. Or perhaps “public transport users rights” which involve spending billions on new rail projects.

    Seeing as we no longer understand what “rights” are about, and the term is thrown about recklessly, we might as well draft up some legislation to protect “BMW owners rights” so that we can specify how much they must pay for a new BMW, how much repairs and spare parts shall cost, and the types of BMW that can be sold.

    You know, Orwell was on to something when he saw how the socialists have totally butchered the language beyond recognition.

  3. Did I get the wrong end of the stick on the “Productivity Commission”? Is it like how Anti-Drug squads in the police are actually called “Drug Squads”?

    You would be mad to hire a Woman into a position if She is of child bearing age. Or of course you could be made to hire them. Is the next step affirmative action quotas and all the stigma they bring?

    People really do not understand that money does not grow on trees. They disconnect the reality of paid maternity leave being a drag on the economy. They see employer – employee relations as some sort of zero-sum tug of war where you need to get as much out of the boss man as possible. They don’t see that by decreasing the productivity of the economy in this way it will hurt us all. They also don’t see that this is essentially the Rudd government once again pandering to his pet group, the “working families” and leaving the rest of us to pay the bill.

    At the same time he is punishing those of us who made sacrifices in order to raise children (either by delaying conception or sacrificing other wants). Do we really want to play budget day lotto every year to see if the big kahuna will favour of punish our special interest? Or do we want to live by the rule of law where we can predict how the government will treat us in the long term so we can act accordingly? It’s a question that every Australian would do well to consider.

  4. Will paid maternity leave be means tested? For instance if you earn $20k per annum and you’re entitled to 14 weeks leave then does somebody on $200k per annum only get 1.4 weeks leave? Assuming we want women to get paid maternity leave and we are prepared to use the force of law to mandate it then it makes more sense for the taxpayer to carry the burden than for the individual employer to carry the burden. The former spreads the cost across society whilst the later focuses the cost on the sucker that employs women. And if you means test the former in terms of the baby bonus then why not means test the latter in terms of paid leave.

    I agree that stuff like this makes the prospect of a bill of rights quite frightening. It is not something that libertarians should ever give blank cheque endorsement to.

  5. They haven’t thought this one through. The way I see it, they have two funding options – employers or taxpayers.

    Forcing employers to fund it would be an unmitigated disaster, especiallly if you’re a female job-seeker between 25 and 40.

    Forcing taxpayers to fund it would have the anti middle class welfare mob, the environmentalists, single or childless people, stay at home mums all bleating (with some merit) about funding other people’s lifestyle choices.

    You’d probably still have employer discrimination against women because of the time and expense of recruting contract replacements.

    Ironic really, the HREOC advocating policies that will vitually institutionalise discrimination against women.

    The big corporates who already give 6 months paid maternity leave might like it as it’s a win for them, but that’s about it.

    As for bills of right, I take your point TerejP & Jono, but if KRudd does force one through, I expect to see you guys adding your 2c worth – e.g. the right to drive whatever car I like and can afford to maintain.

  6. As a business owner, i shall now actively discriminate against childless women in their late 20s. sorry, but i’d go broke otherwise.

  7. Or of course you could be made to hire them.

    Ben – did you see Julia Gillard’s threats yesterday to prevent childcare centres from ‘profiteering’. so the govt subsidises childcare places, the operators raise their fees (shock, horror) and then the govt ‘bans’ them from ‘profiteering.

    are the ALP stupid or incompetent?

  8. But you won’t announce the same on blogs because you know you will then be prosecuted for human rights violations…

  9. indeed. obviously i was merely illustrating a point not actually threatening to ban late 20s childless women, recently married…..

  10. as an aside, Jono – I’m assuming you’re the same Jono who posts to the Age? I love how you get the resident Marxists there worked up!

  11. indeed. obviously i was merely illustrating a point not actually threatening to ban late 20s childless women, recently married…..

    Pommy, stop jumping at shadows. It is not at all illegal to discriminate against hiring women due to their potential to have children. It’s simply illegal to make it obvious.

    It’s not as if stupid laws make any difference. Look at the gun and drugs laws.

  12. David’s right. It’s only law abiding citizens that laws are meant to hurt: Just ask Wayne Swan.

  13. You would be mad to hire a Woman into a position if She is of child bearing age. Or of course you could be made to hire them. Is the next step affirmative action quotas and all the stigma they bring?

    That would be utterly disastrous. Apart from all the usuall arguments against AA, you’d have to specify the quotas by age group to avoid discrimination in favour of women past childbearing age. You might as well ban private employers and have the state do everything, like, say, North Korea

  14. Still, we’re not as bad as Canada! In The Australian, the Legal Affairs section, a writer talks about Canada’s Human Rights Tribunals. Mark Steyn, an author, is being taken to court for quoting Islamic Authorities. The charge is that they incite hatred. Everyone agrees the quotes are accurate.
    Truth is no defence.
    The grievance seems to be that someone might be inspired to hate Muslims, even though they haven’t proven that anyone has.
    I don’t think we’re at that stage yet, but are we going down this path?
    The Legal Affairs writer also notes that no defendant has ever won any case brought before these Tribunals.
    I don’t think I would ever want to go to Canada now! Screw the scenery!

  15. Lets take it a step further.

    You either have the right to initiate violent force against people or you do not.

    If a female employee gets pregnant and insists that her employer pay her maternity leave (lets assume that there was no sort of prior voluntary agreement to pay maternity leave). The employer refuses. The woman then uses the force of government to take money from the employer. The employer refuses again. Now some men with guns go to take the money from the employer. Should the employer refuse now and there will be some violence going on.

    Cut out the middle man in our scenario and now lets have the women holding the gun demanding that the employer pays her maternity leave. There is really no difference, if the employer remains defiant they will end up with a bullet between the eyes.

    The different scenario. You have the right for others to not initiate force against you and therefore you do not have the right to initiate force against others. Employers and women can voluntarily come up with employement conditions, pay, and benefits. These benefits can be tailored to fit both the employee and the employer best. If maternity leave is a priority for this woman then she can try to get that as part of her contract. Should she not want to have children, or be unable to have children, she can prioritize for something else. The market can provide such a thing.

    On a more important side note. The real damage from this is not Australians paying extra taxes to fund such a scheme. The real damage is that this now gives a disincentive for foreign investors to NOT invest in Australia. The real harm is that such a law would cause people to invest their money else where and end up preventing a lot of very real money from being invested in the Australian market. It also creates the incentive for Australian business to start hiring abroad. The very real danger is that such a law makes Australia a poorer place.

  16. It’s already a ‘right’, you have the ‘natural right’ to choose to save up some of your earnings before you have a baby.

    Socialists want to introduce a new ‘right’ to someone elses ‘savings’ to subsidise the gap between the $4,000 baby bonus and a new widescreen home theatre.

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  18. I cant speak for single parents, but i think the working tax credit in the uk is working reasonably well for our family.

    I think its a human right to be able to bring up your own children in the home until at least primary school age.

    I dont see why businesses should cough up the cash either.

  19. I wonder if a move like this would see an increase in the number of women having their tubes tied.

    Some businesses might even consider adding that to their employment packages- “Will pay 75k p.a. and tie your tubes for you”.

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