Recently, there have been some major strides forward for Australia regarding equal paid parental leave in the public sector. For example, in July 2021, the Industrial Relations sector announced the expansion of its 14-week parental leave entitlements to include both birth and primary parents.
However, the Grattan Institute Dad’s Day report released in 2021 highlights some concerning trends in the private sector, with Australia having one of the lowest rates of fathers taking up parental leave benefits, relative to other OECD countries (as shown in Figure 1 below). Government-funded Dad and Partner Pay has half the uptake of the Parental Leave Pay scheme in Australia, and Secondary carer leave employer schemes in the private sector (of which 96% are men) has only a third of the uptake compared to Primary carer leave benefits (Figure 2).
Sources: ABS (2020); and DSS (2020).
There may be overlap between those taking government-funded ‘Parental Leave Pay’ and paid/unpaid leave from a private sector employer.
COMPANIES LEADING THE WAY & SEEING THE BENEFITS
Australia still has some catching up to do with the rest of the OECD when it comes to its government parental leave scheme. However, more Australian employers are recognising that offering more generous and flexible parental leave entitlements for employees (irrespective of gender) can be a powerful benefit for employee retention and attracting top talent.
Recently, some Australian businesses including beverage company Lion and Fintech business Till Payments have received attention for offering equal employer-funded paid parental leave for their employees but also greater flexibility in how this leave is taken to better suit employees’ family needs.
Long-time equal parental leave advocates such as PWC, Deloitte, and Spotify have already started to see the benefits of offering more generous parental benefits, with male take-up of parental leave increasing to 45% (+25%) and halving the resignation rate of employees on parental leave from 6.4% to 3.3%. Spotify has also reported a substantial increase in external applications after introducing six months of fully paid parental leave for all employees.
OPTIMISING ENGAGEMENT THROUGH EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
While parental leave policies play a crucial role in enabling equal parental leave, creating a culture where parents, caregivers and managers feel supported is important too. Jodi Geddes, Co-Founder of Circle In, a globally-scalable parent and caregiver experience platform has helped leading brands such as Atlassian, Medibank, and Culture Amp overcome some of the challenges associated with parental leave inequality by building the platform into their employee benefits offering.
“When you support your working parents beyond a policy, the ROI demonstrates increased employee engagement, greater talent attraction and reduced attrition. It also equips managers and HR leaders with the confidence and skills to support employees and creates an inclusive and family-friendly workplace” Jodi Geddes – Circle In Co-Founder.
WITH YOU ALL THE WAY
If you would like to know more about developing a comprehensive Employee Benefits program to support your business, please contact Honan.
Client Manager – Global Benefits