Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Productivity Commission to Investigate Paid Maternity Leave

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Wayne Swan MP, Treasurer
    The Hon Julia Gillard MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations and Social Inclusion

Delivering on its election commitment, the Rudd Labor Government will ask the Productivity Commission to examine ways the Government can provide improved support to parents with newborn children.

Any policy reforms in this area will be aimed at ensuring strong and sustainable economic growth, take into account our ageing population and the importance of early childhood development, and support Australian families balance work and family responsibilities.

We want to explore ways to make it as easy as possible for working mums to balance their employment with the important job of raising a new generation of Australians.

The Productivity Commission is uniquely placed to advise the Government on the best way to balance economic considerations with the aspirations of working families.

The Productivity Commission will be asked to look at the economic and social costs and benefits of paid maternity, paternity and parental leave.

The Commission will conduct a thorough examination and provide an opportunity for public participation. The Commission will be asked to report by February 2009. Public hearings will be held and submissions from the public will also be sought, with a report produced for the Government to release publicly.

To register an interest in the inquiry or to find out more, details will soon be available from the Commission at Productivity Commission website ( or phone 02 6240 3239.

The terms of reference are below.

Terms of Reference for a Productivity Commission Inquiry

Improved Support for Parents with New Born Children

The Australian Government wants to consider how to improve support for parents with new born children. The context for this is the need to ensure strong and sustainable economic growth, adjust to the imperatives of an ageing population, promote the early development of children and support families in balancing work and family responsibilities.

In undertaking the inquiry the Commission is to:

  1. Identify the economic, productivity and social costs and benefits of providing paid maternity, paternity and parental leave.
  2. Explore the extent of current employer provision of paid maternity, paternity and parental leave in Australia.
  1. Identify paid maternity, paternity and parental leave models that could be used in the Australian context.
  2. Assess those models for their potential impact on:

    • the financial and regulatory cost and benefits on small and medium sized business;
    • the employment of women, women’s workforce participation and earnings and the workforce participation of both parents more generally;
    • work/family preferences of both parents in the first two years after the child’s birth;
    • the post-birth health of the mother;
    • the development of young children, including the particular development needs of newborns in their first 2 years; and
    • relieving the financial pressures on families;
  3. Assess the cost effectiveness of these models.
  4. Assess the interaction of these models with the Social Security and Family Assistance Systems.
  5. Assess the impacts and applicability of these models across the full range of employment forms (e.g. including for the self-employed, farmers, shift workers, etc).
  6. Assess the efficiency and effectiveness of Government policies that would facilitate the provision and take-up of these models.

The Commission is to report by February 2009. The Commission is to hold public hearings and seek public submissions for the purpose of the inquiry and is to produce a report for public release by government.