When I started my own business I knew things may be tougher. It's a lot more work. But what I didn't expect is for my bank, Westpac, to suddenly not recognise my maternity leave.
In April 2012 my house burnt down. The insurance payout was partially taken by my bank to adjust my home loan to the value of the block alone, and I was told I'd need to apply for a new loan to rebuild my home. But when I went to apply for a construction loan to rebuild my home, Westpac rejected the loan because they class income from self-employed women on maternity leave as "unstable"....despite me having met payments on my home loan throughout my maternity leave.
We have federally enshrined maternity leave entitlements when you're an employee of other businesses, why can't women who put in the hard work to start and run our own businesses have the same protection of our careers?
Westpac's policy made a nightmare of a situation worse. It left me with a baby and no home, having to wait more than six months (paying rent for a home to live in and the mortgage on my empty block) until my income could again be "checked" via a tax return. Luckily I found a loan through another lender -- but because my maternity leave wasn't recognised the loan came with thousands of dollars in extra fees.
For other women, policies like this could mean not growing their business, or not buying/starting a business at all due to banks not seeing maternity leave as a normal, time limited income drop for otherwise stable businesses. It's not fair, and certainly not what I thought Westpac stood for.
Please sign my petition asking Westpac to recognise maternity leave for women business owners. We need to promote an equal playing field...equal pay for equal work and equal opportunity regardless of gender.