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How are Australian businesses supporting working parents?
In the Australian jobs market today, 4.1 million (38.2%) employees are either parents of a child under 15 years or have caring responsibilities. With such a significant sector of the workforce taking on the dual function of worker and carer, the onus is on Australian organisations to create a harmonious working environment and ensure their employees feel valued and supported.
Here are some of the efforts Australian companies are making to help working mums and dads.
Providing flexible working arrangements
Any working parent knows that unexpected schedule changes can happen at any time – whether it be that planned child minding has fallen through, a child needs to go to the doctor, or parents have to leave work early to pick them up from school. Many companies, such as Telstra, which recently implemented flexible working hours and opportunities to work from home, are scrapping the strict 9-5 model in favour of more agile working arrangements.
Adopting generous parental leave policies
Current Australian legislation dictates that working mums or primary carers can get up to 18 weeks' leave paid at minimum wage, while working dads can get two weeks’ paid leave. However, Australian businesses are seeing the value in going above and beyond the minimum to provide employees with more generous parental leave policies. Google Australia, for instance, offers 18 weeks’ leave at full pay for mums and four weeks’ pay for dads, while SAS Institute offer 22 weeks’ leave for mums and two weeks’ leave for dads.
Offering organisational support
As the trend toward collaborative relationships between employers and employees grows, so too does the need for companies to take a holistic approach in supporting their workers. Businesses including AMP, Virgin Australia and many others have enlisted the help of work-life integration services such as seventeenhundred, which assists with parental leave, finding the right childcare and school, and transitioning back into the workplace.
Providing childcare assistance
With childcare being an expensive necessity for most working parents, Australian organisations are seeing the business value in helping ease the burden. Caltex, for example, was concerned by retention rates of female employees so it introduced initiatives to support employees returning to work following parental leave – including a quarterly 3% bonus up until the child is 2 years of age to help with childcare costs. As a result, 100% of workers taking parental leave have returned to the company. Similarly, Stockland built childcare facilities at their Sydney headquarters, giving employees priority access.
Enabling a successful return to work and coaching opportunities
Major Australian companies such as Westpac and Deloitte have also utilised services like Parents At Work, which offers support and coaching in transitioning back to work after parental leave. Providing ongoing coaching, engagement techniques and courses enables working parents to more successfully balance family and career responsibilities, and in turn helps businesses improve retention of their top talent.
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Australian businesses are adopting new policies to help support working mums and dads, including:
- Allowing flexible working arrangements
- Introducing generous parental leave policies
- Offering organisational support to working parents
- Assistance with childcare costs and arrangements
- Coaching for employees returning to work after parental leave