New parliament must address paid parental leave
Paid parental leave supports critical public health benefits, giving women a chance to recover from childbirth, bond with their children, and develop a breastfeeding pattern, all of which has positive health outcomes. child health.
But policies that don’t encourage shared caregiving mean other parents are missing out on the crucial chance to bond with their children and establish habits of shared caregiving and household chores that will last a lifetime.
Many large companies, including Telstra, Swinburne University and Norton Rose Fulbright, recognize the value that fairer paid parental leave can bring to workplaces and are making the change.
We call on the next parliament to adopt a gender-neutral six-month paid parental leave to encourage shared custody by both parents.
We would also like to see a commitment to fight stigma and normalize men who take parental leave to be actively involved in the lives of their children, which our research shows they benefit from.
These reforms must be supported by high-quality, accessible and affordable childcare services that better enable women to participate in the labor force and thrive in the workplace.
Doing so requires shifting our collective view of parental leave from a career change to a critically important time for all parents to bond with their children during the most critical stage of their lives.
Employers are playing a crucial role in redesigning policies to bridge the gap between what is available to Australian parents and international best practice.
Iceland’s decision to extend leave periods for both parents and drastically reduce portable leave has led to more fathers taking more leave in the first few months after becoming parents.
In the first year after QBE Insurance began offering 12 weeks of paid parental leave to each new parent, with two weeks taken after the birth of their child and then a set number of days per week over the following months, it has seen a 300% increase in the number of men. take a vacation.
Incorporating caring and flexibility for both men and women removes career barriers, makes companies more gender equal, and supports workforce mental health that drives performance.
Reforms can trigger the cultural shift that allows fathers to better understand caregiving by promoting shared caregiving and creating more equal relationships that allow children to see their parents in different roles.
Additional furlough provisions could cost the government more in the short term, but would increase household incomes and support economic growth by keeping women working and solving nationwide staffing shortages.
Engaging women in paid work at the same rate as men would provide most of the 1.2 million workers the National Skills Commission estimates Australia needs by 2026 and halve the labor force participation gap. the workforce between men and women would fill record vacancies.
It would also be a win for small and medium-sized businesses, which employ two in three Australians but are less able to fund equal pay parental leave.
It’s easy to see how better paid parental leave could make us all winners.
Lisa Annese is CEO of Diversity Council Australia.