||Issue No. 184||27 June 2003|
To the Victors The Spoils
History: Nest of Traitors
Interview: A Nation of Hope
Unions: National Focus
Safety: The Shocking Truth
Tribute: A Comrade Departed
History: Working Bees
Education: The Big Picture
International: Static Labour
Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Technology: Google and Campaigning
Review: Secretary With A Difference
Poetry: The Minimale
Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
The Locker Room
The Story in General
Thinking of America
Family Case to Nurture Mothers
By Carly Knowles
Drita Mujovic says if the Test Case succeeds, women like her would be able to return to jobs they held before taking maternity leave on a part-time basis.
Mujovic had to leave her employment of over four years because she couldn't get part-time work after her maternity leave.
"I think they're really good changes," Drita says. "They've been a long time coming. I'm surprised that the changes have to be made. I think they're changes we should have a right to."
The ACTU's Work and Family Test Case proposes giving fulltime employees returning from parental leave the right to part-time work, and extending parental leave from 12 to 24 months.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow says women are currently offered their old full-time job after 12 months off, but women wanting part time work often have no choice but casual jobs without any leave entitlements.
"The test case has been launched to provide greater job security and reduce the career disadvantage experienced by many women," Burrow says.
Sixty per cent of full time mothers would prefer part time work to give them more time for family commitments, according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Mujovic, is one of them. With a 10-month-old boy, she says not getting part-time work causes not just financial pressures but "other pressures too".
"Your independence is gone. You're this person who's constantly a mum. Not that I don't like being a mum - it's not about that - it's about being able to choose."
The ACTU argues that 12 months is not long enough unpaid leave with 80 per cent of workers of prime childbearing age supporting extended unpaid parental leave from 12 months to 24 months".
Mujovic thinks this change would be "fantastic". She says that it's best to get children to the age where you can better understand what they want. "I've always said that if you can get your child to the age where they can tell you how they're feeling about it [going back to work], then it's better for the child", she says.
Rachel Manns, a full-time working mum thinks that the changes would be beneficial to her family life. She says "I might take a bit more" time off after the birth of her second child who is due in January if she was offered the 24 months. After her first child was born, she had to go back to work after six weeks due to financial pressures, but would have preferred to stay at home to care for her child.
Other proposed changes include eight weeks simultaneous unpaid parental leave for both parents, giving fathers an opportunity to care for mum and new baby. Currently, dads have just one week leave.
An extra six weeks unpaid annual leave is also proposed so that parents can spend more time with their children during school holidays. Flexible working hours to incorporate childcare times and school pickups and drop offs and the right to "reasonable" unpaid emergency leave will also be incorporated in the test case.
Manns' mother-in-law currently looks after 2-year-old Amber when she gets sick, but Mann indicates that it would be good to have the flexibility to take the emergency leave so that she can care for her child if she needs to. "yeah, it would really help", she says.
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