Saturday, November 10, 2007

Australia: Reactions to Proposals for Grandparent Leave

Duing a debate late in the election campaign, Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey said the government would introduce a law that would allow new grandparents to take unpaid leave. According to a story by Michael Edwards, reaction to the proposal (which echoed some earlier suggestions) was mixed. Thus, while demographers say it is an acknowledgement of the increasing importance of older workers, "a pensioner group says it is unlikely many people will be in a position to take the leave."

Bob Birrell from the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University realized that the proposal to allow 12 months' unpaid grandparental leave had wider implications: "Because in the past we would have imagined that most grandparents would've had time on their hands, they wouldn't have been working." While Pensioners and Superannuants Association spokesman Paul Versteege says he thinks the policy is well intentioned, but unlikely to make much of an impact, Edwards notes that ANZ Bank chief economist Saul Eslake sees grandparental leave as an important aspect of social policy to encourage older workers into the economy.
Although Australia's labour force participation rate has been rising over the last few years, participation by Australians in the senior age group--that is, above 55--remains well below that in other comparable countries, such as America, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, and substantially below that of Scandinavian countries as well."
Source: ABC News "Grandparents' leave plan gets mixed response" (November 8, 2007)

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