There are many ways to create a family-friendly work environment.

Parents At Work recently launched Advancing Parental Leave Equality and Introducing Shared Care in Australia: the business case for actiona whitepaper developed alongside WGEA’s recently launched Best Practice Employer Guide: Developing a Leading Practice Parental Leave Policy.

Many small businesses believe that Paid Parental Leave and other family-friendly policies are too far out of reach – often too costly to implement. Sometimes this is indeed the case, but many companies don’t realise that there are still many other ways that they can create a family-friendly, flexible, and inclusive environment for their employees. Our whitepaper discusses the alternative initiatives that can be implemented.

If the provision of paid leave is not realistic, there are still a number of initiatives that can be introduced to effectively facilitate shared caring and ease the juggle between family and work. The principles from best practice PPL apply and organisations can consider any or all of the following to encourage it.

  1. Create a parental leave policy and process. An internal PL policy can make parents aware of the government entitlements they can apply for, explain how to apply for the paid and unpaid leave elements, make provision for staying in touch with employees on leave and outline what support will be available to parents when they are returning to work. This process can also explain any flexible work options that will be available to them and reassure employees about how they will be respected during the parental leave transition and beyond.
  2. Remove primary and secondary caring labels in policies and allow all eligible employees to apply for leave. Explicitly communicating that men and women taking parental leave is expected and accepted can be powerful.
  3. Be intentionally supportive and respectful of individuals who take parental leave. Foster a company culture that welcomes open communication about family life.
  4. Allow parents to use leave concurrently or separately. Let employees choose the arrangement that works best for their family.
  5. Recognise the significance of a new arrival for all parents, regardless of gender.
  6. Making flexible working arrangements the norm, rather than the exception, regardless of gender, position or circumstance.
  7. Provide parental leave and return to work training to employees and managers.
  8. Be innovative/creative. Consider what arrangements can be designed to achieve a good outcome for everyone. Ask employees what they would like to help make their transition easier.
  9. Top up the gap between the government PPL and an employee’s salary. Doing this for even two or four weeks can make a big difference to a family.
  10. Create a space for breastfeeding. Offer emergency childcare.
  11. Provide Keeping In Touch leave. This enables employees on parental leave to return to work for up to 10 days, for which they are paid their usual salary, to stay in the loop at work.

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

Download the WGEA Best Practice Employer Guide: Developing a Leading Practice Parental Leave Policy.

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