The paper proposes a national scheme of paid maternity leave, entirely government funded, available to women in paid work at the time of the birth of a child. Women who have been in paid work for 40 of the 52 weeks before the birth of their child, including small business women, contractors and other self-employed, casual and part time workers, would be eligible. A Time to Value summarises the health and wellbeing as well as social, economic and industrial benefits of the proposed scheme. It is based upon the recognition that women suffer systemic disadvantage over their lives because of their reproductive role. The paper puts it in the context of rapid socio-economic change in Australia over the past 20 years. The nub of the argument, however, is the high proportion of mothers who return to paid work before their child's first birthday, largely because of financial pressure. These children are often in low income families where there is less access to employer-provided paid maternity leave.