Supporting & Advocating for Shared Parental Leave in Australia



Family Friendly Workplaces: Launching a new recognition framework

New Work + Family Standards provide employers with a benchmark of best practice guidelines that support employees meet their work, family and wellbeing needs, developed in partnership by Parents At Work and Unicef Australia. The Family Friendly Workplaces recognition framework certifies employers as a Family Inclusive Workplace™. Find out how to get involved here.


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.


What do Australian families need to manage work & life responsibilities?

To learn more about the National Working Families Report, visit here. 

Download the Executive Summary here.

If you or your organisation is interested in being part of the APLEN community and getting involved in our various projects please email

The Advancing Parental Leave Equality Network

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. 

Find out more here.

Our Mission


Inspire dads to participate in ‘primary’ parental leave - activating a conversation that normalises men taking primary parental leave  

Inspire workplaces and health care professionals to do more proactive things to encourage and support men to take parental leave and work flexibly to enable active engagement in parenting

To advance Australia’s ‘shared’ parental leave policies in workplaces by engaging the business community to normalise parental leave being taken by both men and women.

Our Steering Group

Emma Walsh

Gina De George

Founder and CEO, Parents At Work

Director - Inclusion & Diversity, Transport for NSW

Catherine McNair

Ryan Burke

Head of Diversity & Inclusion, 


Executive Manager, Group Diversity & Inclusion, Commonwealth Bank

Kylie Fuller

Amelia Britton

Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, 

Macquarie Group

Head of Diversity and Inclusion, 

Norton Rose Fulbright

Eric Mercier

Jessie Pitts

Management Consultant, KPMG

Diversity & Inclusion Manager, PwC

Craig Harris

Kate Furlong

Director - Management Consulting, KPMG

Director - Diversity & Inclusion, Deloitte

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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

DeloitteQBETelstraZurich UKDiageoPEXAFender KatsalidisRest SuperDovetail Boston Consulting Group Digital VenturesLion

If your organisation offers equal parental leave for men and women and would like to be added to our Employer list please email We would love to promote your great work.

Campaign Initiatives  to Date

The Documentary

Reshaping Parental Leave Equality in Australia– Lessons from Sweden

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.

Advocacy Art 

A photographic exhibition by Johan Bävman

UNICEF Photo of the Year Award - First Prize

National Press Photographers Association (USA) - First Prize

Sony Award Worldwide - Second Prize

A photographic exhibition by Johan Bävman

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.

Aussie Dads Uncensored 

In partnership with Men's Health

Tuesday 28th August, 2018

Atrio Westfield, Sydney

Richard Deutsch, CEO, Deloitte on his career long fear around juggling career and family

Thursday 23rd August, 2018

Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Jane Huxley, CEO, Spotify on getting 20,000 job applications a month due to great PL policies and family-friendly culture

Friday 31st August, 2018

State Library Victoria, Melbourne

Tale of Two Dads

'Aussie Dads' Andrew Scerri and Pete Rhodes talk about their parental leave experience

Ross Yabsley, Westpac 'Aussie Dad' on the reality of work life balance as a new father

Thursday 23rd August, 2018

Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Johan Bavman on parental leave and being a dad in Sweden  

Photographer of Swedish Dads and Aussie Dads on why he started the campaign

Libby Lyons, Director, WGEA on the 'parental leave equality' business case for employers 

Thursday 23rd August, 2018

Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Dr Vijay Roach, Chairman of the Gidget Foundation on the important role of fathers

Aussie Dads Uncensored event

Georgie Dent, Women's Agenda and MC at Business Leaders Lunch on Advancing Parental Leave in Australia

Friday 31st August, 2018

State Library Victoria, Melbourne

APLEN in Industry

Panel Discussions



Network Meetings

Educational Luncheons

Past industry & business leaders events

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. 

Parental Leave in Australia benchmarked


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.

Read more:

Call for 12 weeks of paternity leave to address gender pay gap

Can fathers afford to take parental leave?

APLEN Supporting Members

Who sets the agenda?

Corporate Australia do

Leading gender equality via parental leave equality.

Network Updates

April 2019 Update -

  • Steering Committee announced, leading parental leave policy reform, SMS4dads, Working Families Research. Download here

May 2019 Update -

  • National Working Families Survey Update + New Research on UK Dads. Download here.

July 2019 Survey Launch -

October 2019 Pre-Release Report Launch -

Is your organisation leading best practice?

Gender neutral, inclusive policy language

Equal rights for mums and dads

Discrimination and stigma free culture

Media & Research

  • 1NEWS NOW | TVNZSpotify finds success with six-month paid parental leave programme for both dads and mums, September 2019
  • ABC Radio - Why don’t more dads take parental leave? Interview with Annabel Crabb, September 2019
  • Insurance Business Magazine - CEOs weigh in at Dive In Festival, September 2019
  • Stuff NZ - Dads call for more support for fathers to take parental leave, August 2019
  • Yahoo Finance - 'Latte Dads': If new fathers had this, everything could change, August 2019
  • Dove Campaign - Benefits of Paternity Leave, August 2019
  • Stanford Research and New York Times Article - When Dad Can Stay Home: Fathers Workplace Flexibility and Maternal Health, July 2019
  • Women's Agenda - The network of employers getting more dads to take parental leave, June 2019
  • ABC News – Fathers’ trailing in equal primary parental leave spurs Aussie dads exhibit by Swedish photographer, August 2018
  • Sydney Morning Herald – ‘Rewarding, scary, exciting, tiring and challenging’, August 2018
  • Women’s Agenda – The power of men talking about managing fatherhood & work, August 2018
  • 9 Honey – Sydney dad on the importance of gender-neutral parental leave policies, August 2018
  • The Australian – Culture around parental leave needs to change, August 2018
  • Westpac – Dads on parental leave? Not normal…yet, August 2018
  • Deloitte – Deloitte backing dads to take parental leave, August 2018
  • HSBC – Why Aussie Dads should take more parental leave, August 2018
  • Lendlease – Take the time (off!) to cherish the dimples! August 2018
  • SJB Architects – SJB Sydney implements 10-week full-pay parental leave, August 2018

Find out more

To find out more please send us an email

Media Enquiries

For press and media enquiries please contact the APLEN organising team at or +61 404 093 082.