GLOBAL WORKPLACE EQUALITY LEADER URGES CHANGES TO PARENTAL LEAVE AMENDMENT BILL
Enhanced paid parental leave and gender-neutral policies are key if Australian employers are to meet gender and wage gap targets says Parents At Work CEO
- Parents At Work CEO Emma Walsh will today appear before a Senate Committee Inquiry to push for world-leading parental leave policies for Australia’s 7.3 million working families.
- The advisory group, which supports businesses to implement and embed family-friendly policies, recommends that leave entitlements be increased to 26 paid weeks, with a pathway to reach 52 weeks by 2030, with up to 12 weeks preserved for each parent and to be accessible up to the first 5 years of a childs life to enable greater flexibility. Ms Walsh says these additional measures would help Australian workplaces achieve gender equality targets, faster.
- Australia’s paid parental leave measures trail behind comparable nations and must be urgently enhanced to enable Australia to meet its gender equality goals.
- If passed as it stands, the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) Bill 2022 would enhance Australia’s paid parental leave laws, by allowing the extended 20-week entitlement to be shared flexibly by parents.
20 February (Canberra, ACT) - Parents At Work CEO Emma Walsh will today appear before a Senate Committee Inquiry to push for Parliament to enact world-leading policies for Australia’s 7.3 million working families in the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) Bill 2022 (the Bill).
As it stands, the Bill will enhance Australia’s paid parental leave laws, by allowing the extended 20-week entitlement to be shared flexibly by parents. Ms Walsh welcomed the Bill but urged the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee to adopt key amendments to meet global best practice.
Parents At Work, an advisory group that supports businesses to implement and embed family-friendly policies, recommends leave entitlements be increased to 26 paid weeks in the next 12 months, with a pathway to reach 52 weeks by 2030, with up to 12 weeks preserved for each parent and to be accessible up to the first 5 years of a childs life to enable greater flexibility. Ms Walsh says these additional measures would help Australian workplaces achieve gender equality targets, faster.
“OECD research has shown, Australia’s paid parental leave measures trail behind comparable nations. The Bill is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough if Australia is going to meet its gender equality targets and shift the gendered norms that see women expected to take on the lion’s share of caring duties in the workplace and at home.
“The Government’s National Strategy on Gender Equality is designed to drive policies that will make Australia a global leader in gender equality – to achieve this it must implement world-leading parental leave policies,” Ms Walsh said.
Earlier this month, the Federal Government introduced separate legislation requiring employers of more than 100 workers to publish their gender pay gaps. Under the legislation, these employers will be required to report against the gender composition of their workforce and governing bodies, remuneration between women and men and practices relating to flexible work arrangements, among other key metrics. Australia’s national gender pay gap for full-time workers is 14.1 per cent.
“Australian businesses will be named and shamed if they aren’t meeting gender pay parity. Beyond potential reputational impacts, there are real implications related to employee attraction and retention, and failure to meet evolving customer and funder expectations.
“The adoption of the global best practice approach to parental leave outlined in our submission will be significant in helping Australian workplaces reach their gender equality targets.
“We know equality in the workplace promotes fairness but it’s good for the economy too. We urge the Parliament to commit to a pathway to reach 52 weeks by 2030 to ensure Australian working families and workplaces are given the flexibility and support they need to enable full economic participation, irrespective of gender,” Ms Walsh said.
The amendments were put forward in a joint submission by Parents At Work and Advancing Parental Leave Equality Network (APLEN), a global network of organisations advocating and advancing parental leave equality.
The Senate Committee hearing on the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) Bill 2022 takes place in Canberra and via video link on Monday, 20 February 2023 from 11am AEST.
A live stream is available here.
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Parent At Work and Advancing Parental Leave Equality Network’s joint submission to the Senate Committee is available here.
About Parents At Work
Parents At Work a is social impact global advisory group providing work and family care solutions to businesses to create family-friendly workplaces. Since 2007, they have provided over 500,000 families in their workplaces with vital family, career and wellbeing services.
In Australia, Parents At Work partners with UNICEF Australia, industry leaders and community organisations to improve gender equality, flexible working and work life wellbeing outcomes.
Family Friendly Workplaces, a joint initiative by Parents At Work and UNICEF Australia, encourages employers to adopt family-inclusive policies and has benchmarked and certified ASX 200 companies, government agencies and not-for-profits across 17 industry sectors on their family- friendly policies progress including Commonwealth Bank, Deloitte, QBE, Novartis, Randstad RiseSmart, ING, Microsoft, Medibank, APRA, HESTA, KPMG, Norton Rose Fulbright, oOh!media, PEXA, Volvo and Genea.
In 2022, UNICEF Australia and Parents At Work released Bridging the work and family divide: Understanding the benefits of family friendly workplaces 1, research outlining Australian workplace policy progress when it comes to supporting working families and to explain the benefits to both organisations and employees.
Emma Walsh, CEO and Founder Parents At Work
Emma Walsh is the CEO of Parents At Work, a global advisory group providing work and family solutions to industry. Emma consults widely to business and governments on creating family friendly workplace policy and practices.
In May 2021, Emma was instrumental in developing a set of National Work + Family Standards providing employers with a benchmark to foster a family friendly culture. She led the charge in launching the Family Friendly Workplaces™ Certification program to recognise employers who meet the Standards.
Emma has been formally recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission with a finalist business Award in 2015, has been shortlisted for the Telstra Business Woman of the Year and was a Winner of the Visa Business Awards. Parents At Work has also been named as a top 200 ‘Businesses of Tomorrow’ by Westpac.