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Universal paid parental leave key to closing gender pay gap

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has pointed to new research on the pay gap between men and women as another compelling reason to introduce universal paid parental leave in Australia.

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling will publish a report today that finds young women are likely to earn around $1 million less than their male counterparts over a lifetime, with this gap exacerbated by having children.

“It’s disgraceful that we are still talking about an unfair gender pay gap in Australia in 2009,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“While it is encouraging to see that Generation Y women are earning on par with their male counterparts at the start of their working lives, it is a disappointing fact that a gap will widen once these women start families.

“When working women become mothers, in the absence of paid parental leave, they lose their connection with the workforce.

“New mothers’ careers tend to stall into a holding pattern, or even regress professionally.

“Disconnection from the workforce over these childbearing years also mean that money stops flowing into superannuation funds, which disadvantages women when they reach retirement.”

Senator Hanson-Young said introducing a universal, government-funded paid parental leave scheme would ensure that a gender pay gap does not disadvantage today’s younger women in later years.

“Australia has one of the world’s best rates of educating women, yet we do not provide for their retention in the workforce if they decide to have children,” she said.

“A government-funded paid parental leave scheme is long overdue in this country.

“Universal paid parental leave would mean that women stay connected to the workforce through important years of their career, and are not unfairly disadvantaged if they decide to also take on the important job of raising our next generation.

“The Greens urge the Federal Government to recognise paid parental leave as a workplace entitlement, and include it in the May Budget."

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