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Many Aussie mums quit rather than take unpaid leave

Many women are resigning rather than taking unpaid maternity leave, a new study has found.

The study, by researchers from Sydney University found that only 36 per cent of respondents who could take maternity leave took it if it was unpaid.

Respondents whose earnings were higher were more likely to take unpaid maternity leave. Only 28 per cent of employees earning less than $20,000 took it, whereas 57 per cent of employees who earned more than $40,000 took unpaid maternity leave. more

Many women are resigning rather than taking unpaid maternity leave, a new study has found.

The study, by researchers from Sydney University found that only 36 per cent of respondents who could take maternity leave took it if it was unpaid.

Respondents whose earnings were higher were more likely to take unpaid maternity leave. Only 28 per cent of employees earning less than $20,000 took it, whereas 57 per cent of employees who earned more than $40,000 took unpaid maternity leave.

One of the researchers involved in the study, Marian Baird, said many of the women not taking maternity leave resigned instead. “As a result, they lose their career path and superannuation and the organization loses their knowledge, their commitment and training,” Dr Baird said. “That’s why Holden, Sydney Water and Westpac strongly argue in a business-cas fashion that offering paid maternity leave to employees allows them to retain their employees and not lose their skills and loyalty.”

Entitlement to 52 weeks unpaid maternity leave has been available to full-time workers through commonwealth industrial legislation for a decade.

The new study also answers claims that a legislated paid maternity leave scheme would just be “middle-class welfare”. It finds that women who are managers or professionals, who work in a large organization and earn more than $40,000 a year are already the most likely group to receive paid maternity leave.

“The more you earn, the more likely that you have paid maternity leave,” Dr Baird said.

“Clearly, based on these results, it is a women who earns less than $30,000 a year and work in hospitality business services or farming who would benefit from a national paid maternity scheme.”

Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Pru Goward said the study was in line with her research on paid maternity leave.




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