Call for child care reform to help working mothers thrive

Thrive PR mothers

We have…been flabbergasted at the tax implications and complexities of introducing our child care policies, and argue that the government needs to introduce substantial reforms.

Here at independent AU/NZ PR agency, Thrive, we value working parents and in an effort to call upon the government to reform the child care system in Australia after this weekend’s election, we have taken a stand and implemented groundbreaking policies for parents in the workplace.

Our new policies include:

  • two months paid parental leave at full pay in addition to the government’s 18 week paid parental leave scheme
  • access to paid childcare funding to cover childcare costs up to $150 per day
  • parking near-premise for mums-to-be in their third trimester of pregnancy.

Thrive is a workplace that recognises the importance of working parents. We are doing everything possible from a culture and financial perspective to get more women returning to rewarding careers at Thrive and to help them transition back into the workplace.

From a client perspective, we offer consultants who are time efficient and always demonstrate accessibility in their flexible working environment. This is underpinned by having all of the systems and processes in place to be able to effectively manage a mobile workforce.

As testament to this, throughout our sixteen-year history we’ve delivered:

  • flexible appointment scheduling for pre-natal parents to allow for additional doctor visits plus additional time out of the office for parents on IVF programs
  • flexible return-to-work times for new parents – there is no strict ‘12 months return’ policy…jobs are left open and most mothers return to work within six months
  • flexible working hours to juggle school commitments like assembly and important occasions such as sports days, and
  • willingness to casually accommodate children in the workplace if childcare is unavailable

Our policies demonstrate that we care and understand the unique pressures of working parents, of whom I am one, being mother to a one-year old son.

We have, however, been flabbergasted at the tax implications and complexities of introducing our child care policies, and argue that the government needs to introduce substantial reforms.

Thrive’s parenting policies currently incur FBT – Fringe Benefits Tax – and there are no rebates when a business pays for child care. It is a costly exercise, and when you are not a major corporation, it is a significant investment.

There are no government incentives for a business to support parents – instead we are penalised and taxed. The current system discourages investment in working parents – in women who are important to our economy and Australia’s future – and that needs to change.

Our longest standing employee Kelly Stambanis, General Manager of the Melbourne office who has been with the company for 16 years, works a flexi-time schedule and has had three children whilst employed at Thrive.

Thrive believes government reform could include:

  • tax concessions for SMEs, like Thrive, to help businesses who are supporting working parents
  • no FBT for a company who wants to pay for childcare or for a home carer for a working parent
  • rebates for whoever is paying the childcare centre – so if an employer chooses to pay instead of the parent, the employer should get a rebate as would the parent if they were paying
  • increase in the rebate for parents to align with rising childcare centre fees and general cost of living
  • legislation meaning childcare centres must offer a sliding-scale discount based on the number of children a parent has at the centre – 20% off fees for the second child, 30%off for the third, etc.
  • legislation to ensure that either childcare centres are open later in the day and cannot introduce exorbitant late fees until a certain time – how stressful is it for a mother to be speeding because they are going to be paying typically $5 every minute until they collect their child, and fewer workers finish at 5.30pm sharp these days
  • legislation on minimum service requirements by childcare providers – they should provide breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner to give greater value for their fees
  • legislation for higher minimum pay for qualified educators to deliver more quality carers

Leilani Abels, Founder and Managing Director, Thrive PR