One of Australia's largest companies is set to unveil a new paid parental leave scheme that offers women a "welcome back to work" payment.
Insurance Australia Group already provides 14 weeks' paid leave, but will now double the salaries of women for their first six weeks back at work, in effect raising their maternity leave to 20 weeks at full pay.
The payment comes on top of the Federal Government's parental leave payment of up to 18 weeks at minimum wage.
The ACTU has welcomed the announcement, saying it should pressure other financial institutions to review their payment schemes.
IAG chief executive Mike Wilkins says the offer is designed to help women overcome the challenges of returning to work.
"This initiative came out of discussions that we had with our people - and specifically women - on the difficulties and pressures that they faced upon returning to the workforce, and we think this welcome back payment is a good first step in helping them to address a number of those pressures," Mr Wilkins said.
Mr Wilkins says the scheme is one of the most generous offered in the financial services industry, which he says offers, on average, around 13 weeks' maternity leave at full pay.
He believes the costs of this bonus will be offset by a reduction in recruitment and other costs, as IAG will not have to train new staff.
IAG group employee Anna Tapperell will be one of the first staff members to benefit from the new policy.
Her first baby is due in July.
"It's just really going to help my husband and I to be in the best possible financial position as we start our family, so it just gives is a huge amount of additional security that I'm very fortunate to be able to access," Ms Tapperell said.
ACTU president Ged Kearny has welcomed the announcement and says others in the sector should consider introducing similar schemes.
"I think the private sector should take note about how this operates, how successful it becomes and ultimately how it makes people - women in particular - more valued in the workplace and increases their participation," Ms Kearny said.
"Increasing female participation in the economy is very good for the economy and it's a goal that we should all aspire to." IAG says the scheme will help the company achieve its target of seeing one third of senior management roles filled by women by 2015.