Friday, June 13, 2008

Paid maternity leave in Australia for small business

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The concept of paid maternity leave is under consideration in Australia. This benefit is already offered in a great deal of OECD countries, though what does it say when most of those countries are the European 'nanny states'.
The article by the Sydney Morning Herald makes the point that small business will be particularly punished by this policy. This is what happens when arbitrary government steps in and makes decision. So what is the solution. If we leave it to government a great many women will be discriminated when they go looking for jobs because they have a 'serious BF' or because they have 'child bearing hips'. Scared employers are likely to make such rash judgements because they will be discriminating if they even ask a 'wrong question'. It strikes me also as unfair on big business if small business is excluded from all these labour costs but they have to bear the burden. You could argue that big business gets other concessions, but wouldn't it be better if all concessions were placed on fair terms. The solution!

Paid maternity leave is a silly concept unless its offered as a package of benefits. Unless this is the case people are goning to be treated unfairly. At the job interview, an employer stipulates how much each benefit is worth to them, and the employee decides accordingly. An employer offers what they can, the employee takes the conditions that suits their future values.

For example, an employer contracts for child care services with a local provider, and in so doing determines their cost of providing this service. If they can't get the service, the employee makes up the difference. That is just one benefit they offer. A single male employee might prefer an extra weeks paid leave. At the end of the day, its not about giving workers more concessions, but giving them more flexibility to choose the concessions they want. If they dont end up having children, then they should be able to get paid holiday instead.

The government need not even be involved. The reason they are involved is that governments create burdens on people. Any benefit comes at anothers expense. Politicians creates a culture of victims and perpetrators. If the government established a concept of fair pay and gave people flexible ways of earning that remuneration package, and gave the market the power to determine the value of that package of benefits, I think you will find business will have a totally different perception of employee benefits.
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Andrew Sheldon www.sheldonthinks.com
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