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Baby bonus: Aussie company doubles new moms' salaries

The list of reasons to move Down Under are plenty: The weather, the beaches, the friendly folks with fantastic accents.Now there’s another one for pregnant working moms. One of Australia’s biggest companies, Insurance Australia Group, is instituting a new, super-generous maternity policy.  As noted in The Grindstone, IAG employees returning from their 14-week paid maternity leave will receiv

The list of reasons to move Down Under are plenty: The weather, the beaches, the friendly folks with fantastic accents.

Now there’s another one for pregnant working moms. One of Australia’s biggest companies, Insurance Australia Group, is instituting a new, super-generous maternity policy.  

As noted in The Grindstone, IAG employees returning from their 14-week paid maternity leave will receive a “welcome back to work” bonus: They’ll get double their salary for the first six weeks back.

IAG chief executive Mike Wilkins told Australia’s ABC News that the policy is "a result of us talking to our people and talking about some of the pressures they were facing, particularly those returning from having children.”

Wilkins adds that while the policy is meant to encourage mothers to come back into the work force and stay, it also eases some of their return-to-work cost pressures, which he describes as, “Things such as having to arrange for childcare, just looking at wardrobes and similar things.”

(Any new mom who has had to fork out cash on those frustrating not-back-into-your-normal-size clothes will say "Hallelejuh" to the wardrobe nod.)

Wilkins told the Austalian TV channel that he expects 500 to 600 of his employees (out of their Australian workforce of about 10,000) to take advantage of the benefit, but argues it’s a “cost-neutral” move because the company will be able to attract and retain people longer.

Not everyone is thrilled by the idea, including commenters on The Grindstone, a workplace blog aimed at women.

Poster Trish comments:

As someone who also does not plan to have children, I think this payment increase is unfair to other employees who will not, or cannot, have children, without similar incentive in place for the childless at other life milestones. 

And says poster Avodah:

Having a child is a life choice. I don’t expect anyone to pay me for my life choices… I took off work for graduate school, may I have my salary doubled?

Grindstone blogger Ruth Graham counters that “other life milestones don’t so commonly push people out of the workforce. This is an incentive meant to retain workers at a ‘tipping point’ that often finds them opting out of paid work. So it’s not just a random reward for child-bearing, it’s a strategic move with benefits to the company.”

What do you think about IAG’s new 'welcome back to work' maternity bonus? Does it make you want to pack your bags for Aussie-land? Tell us on Facebook.

Video: Pregnant woman's video goes viral