“We know in terms of looking at the long-term impact - from other epidemics like Ebola in Africa, SARS and Swine Flu - what was found in Africa, for example, is that the men’s income return to their pre-outbreak was at a faster rate than the women’s so we do need to watch that the immediate change may be quite gendered.” Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission


Over 230 employers, managers and HR practitioners signed up to The Future of Work + Family webinar today to discuss implications for the future of work and family, in light of the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The focus for the webinar was to explore the key recommendations for employers committed to creating family friendly, flexible workplaces.

Hosted by Parents At Work, on behalf of APLEN (Advancing Parental Leave Equality Network) our expert speakers included Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission; Sarah McCann Bartlett, CEO, Australian Human Resources Institute; Grant Wardell-Johnson, Lead Tax Partner, KPMG; Kellie-Ann McDade, Partner Employment Law, Baker McKenzie; Angela Priestley, Founder, Women’s Agenda
and Emma Walsh, CEO, Parents At Work.


Here are some of the highlights from our speakers . . .

How can organisations consider flexible working in the time of COVID-19? Sarah McCann-Bartlett, CEO from AHRI offered that we need to consider that parents will have dual roles (working and caring for kids at the same time), look at the span of hours normally worked (i.e. 7am-7pm rather than 9-5pm), have one-on-one conversations now between managers and employees on each person’s circumstance, and train managers on how to say ‘yes’ to flexible working, showing them that teams working from home can be managed successfully.


Grant Wardell-Johnson, Lead Tax Partner, KPMG offered . . .

“In Australia 84% of men work full time and 27% of women work full time. . . Only 22% of our families are dual income in Australia. . . COVID-19 gender biases because many part-time jobs will go away before the full-time jobs. So not only will you have financial stress but in some cases you’ll have more going into the box where you’ll have full time father working and a mother at home. That’s the gender bias in relation to part-time work.

Budgets in the future will become tighter. . . There are positives however. . . the number of businesses across Australia that will become far more agile in their approach to work and there will be some increase in the part-time, part-time model [both men and women working part-time] – a predominant model in the Netherlands.”


Kellie-Ann McDade, Partner Employment Law, Baker McKenzie offered:

“There are some fatigue, exhaustion and unreasonable working hours type issues that come up in these types of circumstances and we haven’t seen these things happen before. . . There are some restrictions [on new work arrangements] from a legal perspective including the fact that penalty rates are ordinarily payable to employees if they are working beyond the normal span of hours specified in an industrial instrument like a modern award that applies to those employees so these are really complicated times for employers to get their heads around. There are a lot of things that haven’t yet been properly considered but we are seeing some organisations doing some really innovative things.”

Baker McKenzie and KPMG both shared their new parental leave policies and how it has changed the conversation to normalise men taking leave and break down more of the gender stereotypes.


Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission offered:

“I appreciate at the moment that we are valuing different workers, and a lot of those workers are in industries that are dominated by women so carers, nurses and teachers but also scientists and doctors. We are beginning to really appreciate people who we perhaps [in the past] hadn’t paid as much attention to. . . the other positive I’ve seen is seeing some really strong leadership speak from women at this time who create a lot of comfort.”


Watch now to get our panellists best recommendations for organisations and HR teams to consider at this time and into the future plus find out what they think is the single most positive change of the Coronavirus for working parents.


Support and Resources for Organisations

To get the full recording of the webinar sign up to our Supporter Newsletter here and receive it immediately.

If you or your organisation would like further assistance over this time Parents At Work are offering free COVID-19 consultations to businesses on how they can best support employees including putting together emergency work-from-home plans, family wellbeing packs, manager training and work life coaching. For more information click here for a short outline of our services.

For a basic 2 page starters guide for Employers trying to support families during the  COVID-19 workplace disruptions tap here.

For a copy of the2019 National Working Families Report with a summary of the key recommendations tap here.