Almost half of working parents believe they won’t benefit – or will only somewhat benefit – from the new proposed changes to the Paid Parental Leave scheme. But why is this so given the new scheme is significantly more generous than the current scheme?
A Parents@Work poll conducted last month found that 55% of working parents believe they would benefit from the Federal Government’s proposed PPL scheme. Whilst this is over half, a significant 45% believe they will only somewhat benefit or have no benefit at all from the revised scheme.
Over 3000 parents and employers from across a number of sectors and demographics were asked to participate. With 20% believing they would ‘somewhat benefit’ it appears that at least three quarters of those polled find some comfort that the scheme will work in their favour
The question is: Is the new PPL scheme the solution Australian parents are hoping will ease their transition back to work?
Budget 2014/15: The Gender Lens – a recent report by The National Foundation for Australian Women (NFAW) – stressed a significant hurdle for women wanting to make the most of the new PPL: “Adequate and affordable childcare for pre-school age children is essential and on this matter the budget does not provide for adequate funding for integrated policies.”
Emma Walsh, Director, Parents@Work comments: “Our recent poll results highlight that not all working parents are 100% confident in the new PPL scheme. The actual issue we’re looking at is female workforce engagement. Paid parental leave is one part of the equation in increasing the rate of women returning to work after children but the other is the legitimate shortage of affordable childcare in this country.”
A notable highlight from The Gender Lens paper was reference to OECD data indicating the rate of employment amongst Australian women with children less than 5 years of age is 49% – 17% lower than the OECD average of 66%.
Walsh says: “The OECD data suggests we should be doing a lot more to support women to return to work earlier. The proposed PPL scheme may be a start but if we are to increase confidence in all Australian parents we need to look at alternative support mechanisms to do this. Freezing Family Tax payments is not be the thing mums want to hear when it comes time to pay their hefty childcare fees. When taking a more holistic outlook on the barriers for women wanting to reenter the workforce the new PPL scheme is really an incomplete answer.”
Many believe investment on childcare would be a greater support to families if the objective is to boost women’s workforce participation. A few critical studies have supported this sentiment.
Grattan Institute research shows that the two major factors influencing female workforce participation are marginal tax rates and the net costs of childcare. It found that ”government support for childcare has about double the impact of spending on parental leave” in influencing women’s workforce participation.
In support of this the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling found that ”take home rates of pay after childcare costs, tax and forgone welfare benefits are the primary drivers in the female workforce participation rate”.
Parents@Work will be conducting another poll to find out what companies want most from the Government to help support their return to work.
See the Parents@Work info graph summarising the poll findings as well as some other interesting statistics that relate to the PPL.
 UMR are market research company who conduct private ALP-commissioned polling on specific measures
 SMH, Budget hole opens up, viewed 6.6.14, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/budget-hole-opens-up-20140525-38wx3.html
 “The mission of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world”, viewed 6.6.14, http://www.oecd.org/about/
 Includes 34 OECD member countries
 SMH, Is there a better way to help mothers return to paid work? Viewed 6.6.14, http://www.smh.com.au/comment/there-is-a-better-way-to-help-mothers-return-to-paid-work-20130517-2js0z.html#ixzz33pzxxyMU