In a path-breaking move, Cricket Australia has announced a maternity leave scheme for women cricketers for upto 12 months, which will allow them to remain in the game while raising a family. The policy will support players through pregnancy, adoption, parental responsibilities – including a three-week long paid paternity leave for male cricketers.

“(It is) a world-leading parental leave policy providing all professional players peace of mind when starting a family,” Cricket Australia said in its release.

Under the scheme, women who fall pregnant can transfer to a non-playing role until they give birth and they can return at any time after having a child, subject to medical clearance. In addition to the paid leave and contract certainty, they will also receive travel support if they are the child’s primary carer.

“High performance sport is anything but a normal work environment and our policies for our players need to reflect this,” Drew Ginn, the Executive General Manager of High Performance at Cricket Australia, said. “The job is physical, the hours irregular and 100 per cent commitment is expected at all times. This is why we’ve developed such a tailored policy taking into consideration all player and key stakeholder feedback.”

Alyssa Healy, Australia wicketkeeper, welcomed the move, calling it a game-changer.

“The policy is a game changer for players planning for the future while providing job security,” Healy was quoted as saying by CA. “With the playing and travel demands on cricketers, I’m pleased this policy provides support to players, so if they choose to, can both care for their child and participate in the game.”

The carers will also be allowed travel support, including flights, accommodation and other travel expenses for a child. An additional carer will also be available till the time the child is four years of age.

“This policy is the combination of three years of collaboration within Australian Cricket, the ACA and the players, and we’re delighted with the outcome,” said Clea Smith, General Manager of Member Programs at the Australian Cricketers’ Association. “The policy is designed to keep female players in the game for longer which will have a positive impact at all levels of the game.”