How a welfare approach to maternity has facilitated low workforce participation rates for Australian women of child-bearing age

International Employment Relations Association
Publication Type:
Journal Article
International Employment Relations Review, 2009, 15 (1), pp. 53 - 72
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Australia is only one of two OECD Countries that has no legislated universal paid maternity leave scheme. It also ranks eighth lowest in the OECD for the workforce participation rate of women of child-bearing age. This paper examines why consecutive Australian governments have opted to provide a welfare approach to the issue of maternity rather than encourage and embrace womens workforce participation by providing legal entitlements within an employment relations context. The paper examines the history of welfare and paid maternity leave in Australia through an institutional framework in which society, politics and the economy become the bases for the argument. By using this framework for the examination, the paper aims to provide an understanding for the comparatively low workforce participation rate of women of child-bearing age observed within Australia.
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