Supporting & Advocating for Shared Parental Leave in Australia
9 Key Recommendations for Family Friendly Employers
Australia’s leading agencies dedicated to supporting families have joined forces to highlight the important need for the business community to understand and respond to the real challenges facing working families through the COVID 19 crisis and beyond – to help them ‘bounce back’ to build a stronger, more sustainable way of working and caring for family.
The partnership is encouraging businesses to support their staff by getting on board and downloading the Family Friendly Workplace recommendations and implementing them within their workplace.
APLEN is a network of organisations established as part of a commitment to lead UN global gender equality efforts to advocate and advance parental leave equality in Australia.
Australia has the least generous statutory Paid Parental Leave scheme amongst OECD nations; men continue to take less than 5% of parental leave in Australia leaving caring responsibilities largely to women which holds gender progress back. Unless we address the policies, process and culture that prevent men from sharing the caring, true gender equality progress won’t happen.
APLEN's purpose is to break the breadwinner / homemaker mould by educating and inspiring organisations with innovative policies, practices and case studies on how to lead a family friendly, gender equal workplace, starting with parental leave.
Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Wellbeing, Deloitte
Head of Diversity & Inclusion, QBE
Executive Manager, Group Diversity & Inclusion, Commonwealth Bank
Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Telstra
Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Norton Rose Fulbright
Management Consultant, KPMG
Diversity & Inclusion Manager, PwC
The Overall Story
Mothers' work & care
Fathers' work & care
Parents' work & care
What we know – mothers:
Mothers shoulder the burden of family care and unpaid work in Australia
Also (~30%) report an inability to balance work and family responsibilities
Face discrimination / stigma around use of ‘family-friendly’ work
Implications for workforce retention & gender pay gap
What we know – fathers:
Most (71%) dads do not use flexible work options
Only 2-5% fathers use govt. paid parental leave as primary carer
Only 1 in 3 fathers access govt. Dad & Partner Pay
Many report stigma and barriers preventing them from full access to ‘family friendly’ work options
Many fathers (~30%) report an inability to balance work and family responsibilities
Why does this matter for organisations?
Inadequate support for work and family demands leads to:
poorer employee health and wellbeing
lower productivity, less job satisfaction
persistent barrier to improving gender equity
‘Family-friendly’ work policy has largely been directed at mothers, but this can lead to further gender inequality in work and caregiving.
Source: HILDA, pooled waves 2 to 16 - Dr Jenny Baxter. AIFS (Australian Institute of Family Studies)
To advance parental leave in Australia to ensure all parents are equally supported to take parental leave including:
Encouraging workplaces to implement a shared parental leave policy that eliminates gender bias and normalises men taking parental leave.
RESEARCH & EDUCATION
Actively supporting parents to share the leave without fear of discrimination or adverse career consequences. Understanding what holds men back from taking parental leave and flexible work.
CARING EQUALITY for MEN, WOMEN & THEIR FAMILIES
Champion parental leave equality by recognising fathers sharing the caring has a positive impact on women, men, children, society and the broader economy.
We recognise companies offering equal paid parental leave to men & women
Equal parental leave can be defined as policy that allows all employees to apply for the same parental leave entitlements, regardless of gender. These companies have declared equal parental leave entitlement for men and women and have eliminated the primary and secondary carer definitions. Parents no longer are required to choose between being a primary or secondary carer.
This documentary - commissioned and produced by Parents At Work - highlights the issues that Australia (and many other countries) face when it comes to supporting men take parental leave. It also highlights the benefits to families, society and business when we support both men and women to take a more active role in caring for children in the early years of life.
A photographic exhibition by Johan Bävman
UNICEF Photo of the Year Award - First Prize
National Press Photographers Association (USA) - First Prize
With less than 2% of Kiwi Dads taking parental leave this campaign encourages organisations to adopt a shared parental-leave approach: to offer the same leave equally to fathers and mothers, regardless of who is the primary caregiver. The portraits were taken by local photographer Sarah Weber and are of 13 Kiwi dads from different areas and backgrounds of New Zealand.
Parents At Work have continued to work in partnership with the Embassy of Sweden as well as Global Women NZ and our corporate sponsors to show the Kiwi Dads photography exhibition together with Swedish Dads at the new Newmarket Westfield, Auckland in September 2019.
Since Father's Day 2017 there have been a number of business leaders events hosted to inspire Australian workplaces to collaborate on how they can encourage more fathers to participate in shared parental leave to improve gender equality outcomes for all.
Educational and collaborative the sessions have:
Launched a new best practice guide for employers that includes benchmark shared parental leave policies and how they can increase participation of Australian fathers taking parental leave.
Highlighted the business benefits of advancing men’s participation in parental leave and flexible work; recognising the positive impact it has on women, men, children, society and the broader economy.
Examined key research findings on the challenges that hold men back from participating in parental leave and flexible work.
Explored how industry can look beyond policy changes to advance shared care participation by men and women; reduce prejudice and discrimination; and promote inclusiveness of those with caring commitments.
To read more about each of the industry events held so far tap on the link below.
Australia offers the least generous Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme amongst the OCED countries at just 7.6 weeks full-time equivalent pay. All OECD countries, except the United States, provide nationwide paid maternity leave. Over half also offer paternity leave to fathers right after childbirth.
Paid parental leave—for use by both parents—is now available in 23 OECD countries, but uptake by fathers is low.
Fathers are more likely to take paid parental leave if encouraged by “daddy quotas” or bonus months.
In Australia, approximately only 1 in 50 fathers take paid parental leave according to OECD data. According to Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) latest Gender Equality Scorecard for 2016, Australian reporting organisations (non-public sector organisations with 100+ employees only) reveal that:
- 48.0% of organisations offer paid primary carers’ leave averaging 9.7 weeks paid primary carers’ leave as a minimum
- 36.2% offer paid secondary carers’ leave averaging 1.5 weeks paid secondary carers’ leave as a minimum
- 52% of organisations offer NO paid parental leave payment.
- 62.9% of organisations have either a policy and/or strategy for flexible working arrangements
- 53.5% of employers offered non-leave based measures to support employees with caring responsibilities. The most common non-leave based measure was breastfeeding facilities (28.7%).
- 8.3% offered coaching for employees returning to work from parental leave.
- 5.1% of employers offering on-site childcare
- 4.0% of employers offered a return to work bonus
- 3.1% offer employer-subsidised childcare
For more information, see WGEA industry data, comparisons and latest paid parental leave submission.