Australia is coming up short when it comes to Paid Parental Leave, and the conversation around the need for ‘shared care’ and parental leave gender equality is essential. The old adage of ‘mum is at home while dad works’ has become antiquated but our country’s workplace parental leave policies are yet to fully catch up, and lag significantly behind other OECD nations.

The diverse and changing needs of Australian modern families means that the current parental leave policies that focus mainly on mothers (and often even then are found lacking) are not sufficient enough and our economy and workplaces are at a disadvantage as a result.

There is a much-needed push towards more gender-neutral parental leave policies, allowing fathers to take leave as ‘primary carers’ and allowing mothers the option to return to work earlier if they wish.

“Parents are categorised as either primary (usually the birth mother) or secondary carers (father and Partner Pay), often entrenching gender divisions for caring from the minute a baby is born.

Resarch suggests men want change – to be more involved in caring for their children, but a fear of career retribution, as well as inadequate paid leave – including a lack understanding of what they’re entitled to – prevent men from doing so.

The economic argument is also clear – if we improve the division of caring, we increase the opportunities for both men and women to equally participate in the labour market and give them both a chance to realise their career potential.”

– Emma Walsh, CEO Parents At Work

Providing contemporary, equitable and supportive arrangements for both parents that allow men and women to be both caregivers and financial providers, is a key way to advance gender equality. Further to this, it will allow employees to care for their families whilst pursuing their careers with flexibility, fulfilment and purpose.

Parents At Work’s new whitepaper, Advancing Parental Leave Equality and Introducing Shared Care in Australia, provides an in-depth look at these issues, the solutions, and the cultural and economic benefits that arise from advancing shared care participation and improving employer-supported parental leave policies in Australia.

To read more about the case for Paid Parental Leave equality and other family-friendly initiatives, download the Advancing Parental Leave Equality and Introducing Shared Care in Australia whitepaper.

Read more about the recently launched WGEA Best Practice Employer Guide to Shared Parental Leave.

If you would like a free phone consultation to discuss how Parents At Work can support your organisation and help you improve its best practice status, please email