Today, Emma Walsh, founder of Family Friendly Workplaces (FFW) joined Minister for Social Services, The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, to mark the Albanese Government’s commitment to expanded Paid Parental Leave (PPL), and complementing employer-led programs to maximise the leave entitlements parents can take after the birth of their child. Labor’s changes to the Government PPL will see an additional six weeks added, bumping the total leave payable up to 26 weeks – a full six months.
Media Release: Maximising parental leave through Government and employer schemes
The Albanese Labor Government is committed to creating a better Australia for families by expanding Paid Parental Leave and complementing employer-led programs to maximise the leave entitlements parents can take after the birth of their child.
Ahead of World Children’s Day on November 20, data shows while access to employer-funded leave is growing, dads are still missing out – with the majority of eligibility remaining with female employees.
Of all employer-funded schemes, 50 per cent of women had access, but only 36 per cent of men had the same access.
Employer provided paid parental leave is more common in industries dominated by women. Only half of organisations in industries dominated by men offer any form of parental leave, compared to 75 per cent of organisations in industries dominated by women.
Australian men have the second lowest uptake of primary carer leave in the developed world.
Labor’s changes to the Government Paid Parental Leave will see an additional six weeks added, bumping the total leave payable up to 26 weeks – a full six months.
Among the changes include an easier claiming process that allows either parent to be the primary claimant and better access to paid leave for parents whose partners’ don’t meet residency requirements.
Both parents will be able to claim Government-paid leave at the same time as any employer entitlement, helping families to maintain their income while caring for their child.
More than 180,000 families nationally are set to benefit.
Importantly, secondary carers will be encouraged to “use it or lose it” to facilitate more dads and partners to access PPL and share the load more evenly – particularly in the early months of a newborn’s life.
The transition will begin from July next year with structural changes to modernise the system.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said expanding Government Paid Parental Leave was an important step that would not only help families, but also benefit the broader economy.
Employer-funded leave was also an important piece of the puzzle in assisting families, she said.
“We know that treating parenting as an equal partnership helps to improve gender equality,” Minister Rishworth said.
“It is important that we have a Paid Parental Leave scheme that supports modern Australian families and that complements other parental leave schemes offered by a growing number of employers.”
UNICEF Australia’s Chief Advocate for Children Nicole Breeze said through the Government-funded Family Friendly Workplaces program, more employers were expanding parental leave to best support their employees.
“As we approach World Children’s Day on Sunday we are pleased to highlight the overwhelming volume of research from around the world that shows Paid Parental Leave improves the health and wellbeing of the child and increases development outcomes,” Ms Breeze said.
“UNICEF Australia along with our valued partner Parents at Work have been working with companies and organisations to improve family friendly practices in the workplace, including increasing access to PPL. As a result of these efforts 315,000 people are currently employed by companies certified as Family Friendly Workplaces.”
The Government has committed $1.4 million to support 500 workplaces meet the National Work and Family Standards, create a Family Friendly Workplace culture and be certified as a Family Inclusive Workplace.
Emma Walsh, founder of the Family Friendly Workplaces Certification, said paid parental leave is a key pillar needed to embed a family friendly workplace culture.
“Both employers and government play an important role in introducing and elevating family-friendly policies to ensure workplaces can help all employees reduce work life conflict and reconcile their work and caring responsibilities,” Ms Walsh said.
“The evidence is clear, accessible and well-funded paid parental leave is crucial if we want people to stay connected to the workforce, but it’s also vital to support the health and development of children and to improve gender equality outcomes.”
About Family Inclusive Workplace™ Certification
FFW works with Australian employers, including Baker Makenzie, to implement Family Inclusive Workplace™ Certification which evaluates the policies and practices within an organisation to enable a Family Friendly Workplace culture. The recognition framework provides targeted insight on how organisations can improve these policies and practices. This is achieved through a straightforward employer survey.
With the support of industry partners, the National Work + Family Standards engage both private and public sector employers to tackle the rising pressures families face trying to combine their work and caring responsibilities. The initiative aims to address systemic barriers to women’s workforce participation and gender inequality such as access to flexible work, paid parental leave and child and aged care support.
The National Work + Family Standards outline the minimum and best practice policies and practices employers should invest in to foster a family friendly workplace culture. A national recognition framework allows employers to be benchmarked against the Standards and work towards being certified as a Family Inclusive Workplace™.
Further quotes attributable to Emma Walsh from the press conference
“Good work and family policy require both government and employers to work together to achieve better outcomes for working families. Work-life conflict is real and it’s costing our economy and community. It needs renewed focus and attention as we recover from the pandemic. We have a unique opportunity to rethink the way we bridge the work and family divide that we must not squander.
“Family friendly policies, such as paid parental leave and flexible work, help employees to combine work and caring responsibilities.
“The evidence is clear – accessible and well-funded paid parental leave is crucial if we want people to stay connected to the workforce, but it’s also vital to support the health and wellbeing of children and to improve gender equality outcomes.
“That’s why it’s incredibly important to see government and employers like Baker McKenzie continuing to improve paid parental leave provisions and ensuring there is a greater, and a more equal opportunity for men and women to take the leave. We need this to continue.
“UNICEF Australia and Parents At Work are calling on all public and private sector employers to assess their current workplace practices. We want to make sure that they are fit for purpose and support greater work-life wellbeing outcomes for all employees including those with caring responsibilities and can go a long way in helping the most vulnerable families in our community.
“Employers can now be benchmarked and certified against a set of National Work + Family Standards with guidance and support. We’ve seen encouraging results so far with some of the largest employers in Australia becoming certified from various industry sectors including finance, mining, insurance, media, retail, building and more.”