Maternity Payments for working mums

At the moment there is an interesting debate on Maternity Payments for working mums  payments for mums when they take time off to have their baby Currently only 2 countries who do not have this scheme USA and Australia
  • In Sweden, for example, a mum receives 80% of their income for 390 days, plus an additional 90 days at a capped flat-rate (this is the most generous scheme), 
  • In Britain mums get 90% of their income for 6 weeks plus an additional 33 weeks at a lower rate 
  • the Netherlands gives their mums 100% of their income for 16 weeks
  • In Canada mums get 55% of their salary for 15 weeks.
Our current (Rudd) government has a scheme (which is about to commence), paying eligible recipients the adult federal minimum wage ($543.78) for 18 weeks no matter what they had been earning in their current job and after this point they must support themselves eg through other benefits, leave entitlements etc... or return to work.  The plan from the opposition (Abbott) government would receive 100%  of their income for 6 months (for all mums who earn up to $150 000 per year).

The government scheme will be funded through taxes whilst the opposition scheme is funded by big business - who aren't thrilled with the idea at all (a large company like Rio Tinto would pay $1.5 million per year - that is big dollars for any company).  Both schemes do not take into account the income of the spouse.

On top of the maternity payment scheme, mums also get $5,185 per eligible child in 13 fortnightly installments (this is capped and called the Baby Bonus).  The baby bonus is given to working and non-working mums.  For those non-Australians wondering what the  purpose of the Baby Bonus is it was to encourage women to have children as our birth rate was declining!!  Our birth rate is now on the rise whether that was due to the Bonus, I am not sure.  The Baby Bonus used to be given as a lump sum, but it was found that families used it for non "baby" expenditure eg to by a Plasma TV!! :(

The question we were discussing at work was:
  1. should high income mums get the maternity payment (middle class welfare)
  2. should the spouses income be taken into account
  3. should it focus more on lower income mums
  4. are we creating a welfare state where people expect money from the government for a whole range of things
Interestingly in the newspapers there have been a number of would-be mums who have said they couldnt afford to have children unless there was a maternity payment.  This raises an interesting question about the way people spend money and make life choices eg some couples decide to buy an expensive house which needs two incomes to pay off the debt but when it comes to having children they cant afford it because their mortgage is too big. People seem to have their priorities all mixed up.

Feminists would argue that these payments were vital to keep women in the workforce (as they have the right to be there) and the government is responsible for making sure this happens. 
This is no longer an issue for us we saved so I could take time off work for Caius (I wasnt working when I had Tristan) and we went with-out so we could manage on one income My employer gave me 12 weeks on full-pay then I used a bunch of leave on half pay.
What do you think?


  1. This is a very interesting question. I remember having a discussion with a friend of mine who lives in Russia a couple of years ago. In Russia, a woman gets a small stipend (not equivilent to full-time pay), and can be off of work for up to three years. Her company has to be willing to take her back, at that point. To me, an American, the system sounded almost too good to be true - and it is. The result, she told me, is that women who are young and married have a very difficult time finding work. Companies do not hire them intentionally, because they don't want to have to hold positions for them, and pay into the stipend program, when they are receiving nothing in return. As people tend to marry and have children in or right after college there (as opposed to the US, where many don't get married until almost 30), women under the age of 30 have a very tough time finding work.

    On the other hand, I work for a part of the government here in the States. My co-worker just came back from materinity leave - 8 weeks, because she had a c-section. Because she only had six weeks of leave stored up, she lost two weeks of salary. Normally, if a government employee (at my level, at least) has some sort of unplanned health issue, then others can donate sick time for them, so they don't have to be without pay. The head of our department, however, who is a man, will not classify a pregnancy as an unplanned illness, because he feels that ALL pregnancies can be planned for. Personally, I think that's a rather ridiculous attitude, because despite all of the precautions one can take, women can always get pregnant by accident.

    To be frank, I think it is rather ridiculous to give someone a financial reward for having a child. I know a lot of countries are doing this....but it doesn't seem to make sense. Then again, I've heard of poor women in the States wanting to have another baby, so they can get more welfare. Is that any different?

  2. Jo, I agree with your comments about priorities.

    I worked for a pharmaceutical company for 3 and a half years, in an administrative role. The company was full of career minded women, who upon reaching their late 30's, decided they had better hurry up and have a child or two. They always returned to work very soon after the birth of their child. This particular company paid a maternity leave equivalent to their salary, for, I think, 6 months. (I could be a little wrong with the time frame though. Maybe 3 months.)

    Anyway, many returned because of high mortgages. These were homes that had everything in the latest and greatest range. Some returned purely because they were career-minded women.

    I would prefer to have a very basic and modest house, and savour my child's young years, then "to be keeping up with the Jones'". Sadly, this is the social epidemic of our times. Too many children, in too many childcare facilities.

    One of the women I worked with, had her baby in hospital a couple of times. Why? because he constantly got sick from the infectious sicknesses at the childcare centre. He was sickly and distressed. She would not give up work because she said she needed to work so they could pay for a good school and education for the baby when he was older. I bet that child would rather Mummy, than the best school in town.

    I know that is slightly off the angle you are talking about. But I am sure you get my drift lol.

    I personally don't think it should be funded by the taxpayers. By the big companies? Yes, maybe. Small businesses would have a hard time with that policy though. Especially in these troubling times.

    Interesting post. Thank you...

  3. I am not clever enough to be able to solve this little problem but I would like to see mums encouraged to say home for as long as possible with their precious little children.
    Like others here, we just made do on one income when we were blessed with babies. We didn't have a plan, but God provided and continues to provide, all out needs.
    Both of my daughters are home with little ones just now. Though they don't hold my same convictions :-( they are committed to staying home with the little fellows, at least for now. There is huge pressure for them, not from partners, but socially to return to the workforce, have homes, cars etc. I see how hard it makes it for the young couples starting out.
    I definately don't agree with tax payers footing the bill for huge salaries but a flat rate might work. I think however that the value of stay at home mothers is a little underated then.
    It is a conundrum. We will all watch to see how it pans out.

    Enjoyed looking around here today Jo, and added you in my reader. See you soon!


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