We may still be celebrating the Federal Government’s announcement of paid parental leave but what about the Superannuation mums miss out on when on taking maternity leave. On average women have one third as much superannuation savings upon retirement as men. Westpac has become Australia’s first bank and private company to agree to pay staff on parental leave Superannuation in the first 12 months in addition to 13 weeks paid parental leave.
Hopefully this will encourage other rivals and friendly friendly businesses to do the same.
Read about what Westpac is doing Bank forks out to set super lead on parental leave
SYDNEY MORNING HEREALD
PAUL BIBBY June 30, 2010
As a Sydney mother, Tracy Higgisson, sat and talked about the ground-breaking parental leave policy announced by Westpac yesterday, a friend chimed in from the background.
”It’s not fair,” her friend said. ”Why can’t I get that?”
One brief interjection says much about the bank’s decision and its likely impact on the industrial landscape.
Westpac announced yesterday that it would continue to pay superannuation to staff who chose to take unpaid parental leave when they had a child, for up to a year.
This is on top of the 13 weeks’ paid maternity leave that the bank already offers to staff, including those such as Ms Higgisson, who work for BT, RAMS and St George.
The policy will cost the bank up to $5 million a year. By retirement, the bank’s superannuation bonus should become a $72,000 nest egg for an employee on an average salary who takes two periods of parental leave.
Westpac is the first private company to take a stab at one of the glaring inequities in the Australian superannuation system: women on average have one-third as much superannuation upon retirement as men.
The director of the Centre for Work and Life at the University of South Australia, Barbara Pocock, said: ”This effectively sends the message that Westpac is the employer of choice for prime-aged [working] women and it puts them a step ahead in the war for talent.
”There is certainly some pressure on the other banks now. Many women will pay attention to it and some women in other companies and other industries will be asking ‘Why doesn’t everyone get that?”’
With a 17-month-old and another due in August, super is not Ms Higgisson’s priority, but she will benefit from the system and can see the significance.
”I’m having my babies in quick succession – I will have been out of the workforce for two of the past four years – if you think about, 9 per cent of the salary for two years is quite a lot. You hope that when you retire you’re still with your partner, but there’s always a possibility that you’re not.
”If that happens, then the amount of superannuation becomes pretty essential to your life. I think anything an employer does to help parents out during a difficult time is a really good thing.”
Such sentiments were echoed by many yesterday.
It was a far cry from the howls of derision aimed at Westpac late last year when it elected to raise interest rates well above the mark set by the Reserve Bank, and then explained the move with a banana smoothie analogy.
The general manager of AMR Interactive, Oliver Freedman, said: ”There’s no doubt they would have wanted to improve their corporate reputation from that point, and I think [this] definitely will. One of the key components of reputation is perception of workplace environment. If you’re seen as treating employees well it’s likely to be received positively.
”We did a survey earlier this year which had them ranked 48th of 60 companies for corporate reputation. I’d be expecting them to improve from there.”
a parental leave?
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