Monthly Archives: May 2015

What does the new ‘family package’ mean for employers? Importantly, how do working parents feel about it?

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The new childcare and parental leave initiatives have possibly been the most controversial and emotive of Budget 2015.

The Government’s intention is to encourage parents to do more paid work. Sounds good for the economy right? But is it really? And at what expense does it come to our children, working parents and employers?

[Hot news update: 34 leaders and 21 organisations have joined forces to ask government to abandon its proposed changes to PPL. Read more here. Updated: 22.5.2015]

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New Harvard research: Children benefit from having a working mum

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 1.14.27 pmHere’s some heartening news for working mothers worried about the future of their children.

Women whose mothers worked outside the home are more likely to have jobs themselves, are more likely to hold supervisory responsibility at those jobs, and earn higher wages than women whose mothers stayed home full time, according to a new study. Men raised by working mothers are more likely to contribute to household chores and spend more time caring for family members.

The findings are stark, and they hold true across 24 countries.

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80,000 mothers to lose government funded paid parental leave – how can employers help?

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Treasurer Joe Hockey announced on Mother’s Day that almost 80,000 new mothers will lose some or all of their parental leave payments as a part of the new government childcare package.

The announcement comes just months after the Prime Minister announced the abandonment of his ‘signature’ Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme.

In a move that will increase the pressure on employers to provide strong PPL schemes, almost half of new mothers will lose access to the full $11,500 available under the existing scheme.

The current government scheme provides primary care givers with 18 weeks of leave at the minimum wage if they are earning $150,000 or less. Parents are able to access both the government scheme and their employer’s PPL scheme, if they have one in place.

Hockey told Channel Nine yesterday that the government will be putting a stop to the dual access system.

“We are going to stop that,” he said. “You cannot get both parental leave from your employer and from taxpayers.”

“I just want to stress the fairness element,” the Prime Minister said at a press conference in Sydney yesterday.

He told the conference that while he was a big supporter of PPL, there were a “whole host of reasons” that the government had decided “the time was not right for the fullness of the policy that we took to the last election”.

The government later provided figures which revealed that 47% of eligible mothers are due to lose the government payments.

Changes to the PPL system will come into effect from July 2016.

Women who are employed by organisations that provide PPL which is less than the government’s offering will have access to a partial federal assistance. Around 27% of new mothers – 45,000 women a year – are expected to fall into this category.

Those whose workplace scheme offers more than the government’s will lose the government support altogether; around 20% of new parents will have no state support.

Just over half of mothers across Australia are set to be unaffected as their employers do not have a PPL scheme in place.

HC spoke to Lisa Annese, CEO of Diversity Council Australia, about the announcement’s impact.

“Obviously it will be a blow to families who were counting on the government funded Paid Parental Leave,” said Annese. “It may have an impact on other aspects of being a working parent, such as breastfeeding. Some mothers will have to return to work before they intended to, and overall it is likely to have a negative effect on many workers’ ability to juggle work with their responsibilities at home.”

“I would really advise employers to continue to be generous with PPL,” she added. “There’s an excellent business case for it, especially for women and encouraging them not be put off from taking maternity leave. I’d encourage employers to consider other forms of support for families, such as offering workplace flexibility as an enabler to balance work and family life.” 

Abbott said at the press conference that the Coalition had promised to end “double dipping” before the 2013 election. The Liberal Party’s election policy document, however, does not refer to stopping women from accessing more than one PPL scheme.

By: Chloe Taylor

Source: HC Online

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City Dad on taking extended paternity leave

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City Dad, Adrian Dyer, on taking extended paternity leave to put his family first, taking a step back and focusing on what’s really important

Adrian Dyer began his career in the Merchant Navy as a navigating officer. He came ashore in 2000 and has worked within the shipping industry in the City of London ever since. He is married with two children. Adrian blogs as City Dad, aiming to encourage dads to become familiar with their rights as regards paternity and parental leave, as well as flexible working.

Family man

I think I’ve always been a family man. In fact most of my family, my own dad in particular, is very family-oriented, as opposed to surrounding themselves with friends, for example. I have always loved being around my family and around the home. At one point in my career I even requested working from home as a permanent change to my contract (it seemed much preferable to commuting for two and a half hours each day!) but my suggestion was rejected.

Shifting the base of work and family

In 2009, after the birth of my son, I spent two weeks on paternity leave immediately after his birth and then disappeared off to work leaving my wife to carry on with the rest of her maternity leave alone. This didn’t seem fair for several reasons. First, I had it easy, sliding off to the office to sit around and drink cups of tea while dealing with a few emails and calls.

My wife, on the other hand, was rushing around all day with our little one. She did love her time at home but, especially as it was our first child, it wasn’t easy. “You’re not doing anything around the house,” she used to say and she was right, I wasn’t. How could I? I left for work before 7am and was back again shortly before 7pm. But what could I do to shift the balance of work and family?

Back in 2009, the answer was: not a lot. However, when my daughter was born in 2012, we had more options.

“How would you like to split my maternity leave with me this time?” my wife asked.

“What? Can we really do that?” I asked, surprised.

Extended paternity leave: How would I cope?

Luckily my wife works in HR so she was well aware that in 2011 the law changed to allow dads to take up to six months of the wife’s maternity leave as additional paternity leave, as long as she has taken at least the first six months and returned to work. How would that work financially? How would I cope looking after two kids? What would my boss say about that?! So many questions…

A few months out to spend quality time with the kids – taking a step back and thinking about what’s really important

What an amazing opportunity – a few months out to spend quality time with the kids. I’d really be putting my family first. I think sometimes we can get caught up in life and lose our sense of what is really important to us. We focus on salaries, bonuses, status, how many bedrooms we have, what sort of car we drive. Once in a while it’s worth taking a step a back and thinking about what’s really important to us.

So: how about taking additional paternity leave? Financially it would be OK. My wife was earning more than I did so her returning to work once her enhanced maternity pay ended made sense. In addition, I was lucky enough to have some savings which I could use to pay my own way during my four months of totally unpaid leave.

Looking after two kids: It couldn’t be that hard, could it?

Could I look after two kids? Well, it couldn’t be that hard, could it? And what would my boss say? I work in the City of London for a company founded in the 1800s with a very traditional work ethic, so I knew this was going to be tricky. The best approach I could come up with was to take my manager out to lunch, buy him a couple of beers and then hit him with it. I thought he might be more receptive after having sausages and mash and two pints of Old Wallop.

He was shocked at first and actually didn’t know if it was even possible, but once I emphasised the financial reasons behind my plan, it began to make more sense to him. Nevertheless, he asked me to check with HR. That turned out to be just a formality. So that was it. All set for four months “off”.

An amazing, family changing experience

How did it go? It was an amazing, family changing experience. The kids loved it, I loved it and my wife was ready to return to work and leave me in charge at home. It was hard work though and when I tell people I only went back to work for a rest I’m only half joking! It’s all go, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and I’d do it again.

Everyone I spoke to was really supportive and, apart from my own manager’s initially hesitant reaction, I’ve received nothing but encouragement and support from friends, colleagues and people I have met. This also includes other mums I met who seemed to enjoy the novelty of having a dad around!

Spend as much time as possible with the kids as possible – they won’t want Dad around forever!

After my four months of paternity leave, the thought of going back to work and missing out on being with the family was a bit depressing. However, I managed to negotiate a four and a half day working week which has worked out really well. It has meant a pay cut, of course, but I think that kids are only young once so we have to do what we can to spend as much time as possible with them now as they won’t want Dad around forever!

More devoted employee

Work wise I’ve returned to exactly the same role and my job hasn’t been affected negatively in the slightest. I’d even go so far as to say it’s had a positive effect, as I think I’m a more devoted employee now and, due to the fact that my employer has allowed me to work flexibly, I’m more likely to stay where I am.

The next generation of men will be doing this a lot more than we do, so why not beat them to it?!

By: Adrian Dyer

Source: Womanthology

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Flex time: are employees afraid to use it?

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Flexible working hours are the perk du jour and a particular favourite among millennials – but if your employees don’t feel comfortable taking advantage of the offer, there’ll be no effect on engagement and the entire initiative will be pointless.

So how do you prove to your team that flex-time isn’t just an empty promise and it really is okay to leave early? HR director Crystal Dunlop helped implement a successful strategy at accounting firm RLB LLB – here, she shares her insight with HRM.


If you want your employees to feel comfortable using the flex time policy, you need to be completely transparent with clients and business contacts, said Dunlop.

“You still want to give your highest and best contribution to your clients but if a client wants to meet with someone and they’re on a three day week arrangement, there’s obviously going to be challenges,” she explained.

Encouraging your employees to be transparent about their working arrangements and communicate them clearly with clients will prevent many disappointments, said Dunlop.


In the summer months, RLB operates on a four-day week and employees get Fridays off. Despite having the potential to cause problems with clients, Dunlop said the firm hasn’t received a single complaint and some business associates have even adopted the same policy within their own organisations.

Dunlop said their success was only possible thanks to complete transparency and clear communication.


“One of the challenges we had in the early days was this perception that if people work a lesser role or are leaving at certain times – say with parents picking their children up from school – that they’re not pulling their weight,” revealed Dunlop.

According to her, the only way to get over that is by educating your employees – at all levels.

“Some of the partners had always followed a more traditional model and would come in at 6am and leave at midnight,” said Dunlop. “So we talked a lot about gaining the skills and abilities to be able to do the work without putting in all that time.”

“We talk a lot about working smarter not harder, we talk a lot about non-traditional models and we always try to reinforce that,” she continued.

Tips for Employers
  • Put your money where your mouth is

When RLB made the move to give employees Fridays off in the summer, they proved it wasn’t an empty promise by fully committing from the offset – it was never billed as a ‘trial run’ – and then closing the office off completely.

“We discussed whether reception would still be open for clients but we made the decision that if we were open, people would come in,” said Dunlop. “So, we made a conscious decision to close the office – no admin staff, doors locked. We’re closed.”

  • Get support from your partners

Employees are never going to feel completely at ease using flex-time until they know their bosses support it.

“We encouraged our senior level employees to practice flex-time because we really believed in it,” said Dunlop. “The first year we had to do a lot of work with the senior leadership team and the partners to say ‘Listen, if you’re here people are going to feel like they need to be here too.”

By: Nicola Middlemiss

Source: HC Online

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UN Report: Women still way behind on pay, career and help

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A UN report out this week on the Progress of the World’s Women is an interesting read…
The idea of ‘substantive equality’ recognises that inequality can be structural and discrimination can be indirect; that we must go beyond creating equal opportunities, to ensure equal outcomes; and that ‘different treatment’ may be required to achieve real equality in practice.”

The website is very easy to navigate and we recommend a read of the full report here.

Here’s a great article written by Judith Ireland that sums up some of the reports findings…

UN Report: Women still way behind on pay, career and help

Women worldwide earn only three quarters of what male workers are paid, while they do almost two and half times the amount of housework, a United Nations report has found.

Calling for a major shakeup in global economic and social policy, “Progress of the World’s Women” says that, on average, women earn 24 per cent less than men.

Women in South Asia experience the biggest pay gap, with an average of 33 per cent, while women in the Middle East and North Africa experience the smallest, with an average of 14 per cent. Along with Finland and Mongolia, Australia received particular mention in the report for being a country where the pay gap widened between 2000 and 2010. 

UN Women says that despite progress on women’s rights over the past two decades, the current situation is not acceptable or understandable.

The report, to be launched in Sydney on Tuesday, says that female labour force participation has “stagnated” since 1990. Over the past two decades, the number of women overall in the paid work force has dropped from 52 to 50 per cent – although the drop is not as much as it is for men, who have slipped from 81 to 77 per cent.

The report finds that women make up 63 per cent of clerical and support positions, 55 per cent of sales positions but only 33 per cent of managerial positions.

It asks: “At a time when women and girls have almost equal opportunities when it comes to education, why are only half of women of working age in the labour force globally, and why do women still earn much less than men?” 

When it comes the housework, women do almost two and a half times as much unpaid care and domestic work as men, and if paid and unpaid work are combined, “women in almost all countries work longer hours than men each day”.

Just 8 per cent of working women in developing countries with a child under six have either childcare or domestic help that is not a family member to look after their children.

UN Women suggests a wide range of solutions from making maternity and paternity leave available to all workers, to quotas and targets for women in male-dominated industries and encouraging girls to study maths, science and engineering.

The report highlights that much work is also left to do when it comes to protecting women’s rights through legal measures.

While almost all countries worldwide have signed on to the UN’s convention to eliminate discrimination against women, many retain official “reservations”. This includes 26 countries who have made reservations when it comes to women’s rights in marriage and family.

It finds that of countries with available data, 73 per cent have passed laws on domestic violence. Australia again received special mention here, this time for the “best practice” way the Victorian government and police are tackling violence against women.

UN Women Australia executive director Julie McKay said the report highlighted that “around the world, there’s no country that’s achieved gender equality and women’s empowerment fully”.

Ms McKay said she had an “intense” level of frustration that “we have not made more progress”.

“How long is it going to be before we start taking women’s economic security more seriously?” she asked.

She noted the Australian government had set a target, through the G20 last year, to reduce the gap in women’s participation rates by 25 per Cent by 2025, but there was no clear strategy yet for achieving it.

By: Judith Ireland

Source: SMH

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