Parental leave policy norms risk dads being left in the cold

With the gender debate still raging and showing no signs of lessening any time soon, working dads are the surprisingly hidden victims in much of this debate.

Whilst women are granted maternity leave of up to 12 months, and some dads being offered paternity leave, few employers are really addressing the vexed issue of paid parental leave in any meaningful way. A recent straw poll within the recruitment sector revealed that where an employer-funded policy existed, the average paid leave offered to the primary carer was four weeks, and two weeks for secondary carers.

Four weeks and two weeks. One recruiter who doesn’t believe this comes close to what parents ought to be given is now calling on her professional colleagues to follow her lead and give parents the time with their children that both the carers and the children deserve.

With many employed men and women combining work with caring responsibilities, providing a modern parental leave policy for both parents is critical to employee attraction and retention, but more so supporting employees to balance their career with family transitions and also achieving gender equality.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics and Workplace Gender Equality Agency report that:

  • In 2017 some 64 per cent of couple families with children had both parents working, up 8 per cent from a decade ago (59 per cent).
  • WGEA 2016-17 data shows the average length of paid primary carer’s leave offered is 10.1 weeks.
  • The same data shows the secondary carer’s leave averages a paltry 7.3 days.
  • Women are still far more likely to identify at the “primary carer”.
  • Organisations parental policies equally reflecting this stereotype and gender imbalance.

We are trying to lead the way in the recruitment industry (and hoping other industries follow suit) by offering up to 16 weeks paid parental leave with no repayment clauses, available to both primary and secondary carers.

A key driver for achieving gender equality is changing attitudes about the distribution of work at home and in the workplace. We wanted our parental policy to reflect this. That is why we put a significant amount of effort to research and design what we believe to be, is a leading modern-day parental policy; and we invite other recruiters and businesses to join us.

Nina Mapson Bone, Managing Director, Beaumont People

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