As the Australian government reviews plans to cut their paid parental leave policy which currently provides paid support up to 18 weeks (at minimum wage) to help working parents who earn $150,000 or less financially, it is even more important for companies to look at their own policies to support working parents.
In the US, 2016 has been a banner year for paid parental leave with New York state and San Francisco passed new paid leave laws in April. Etsy, Twitter and Deloitte are some of the latest companies to implement generous paid leave policies that raise the bar for all employers. And Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made headlines when he took two months off for the birth of his daughter.
Here in Australia, companies such as Caltex provide primary care givers a 3% pay bonus every quarter up to the child’s second birthday once they return to work to help offset costs such as childcare. The results show a 25% increase in the number of women successfully transitioning back to work. Similarly, TAL Insurance have been working on closing the gap by paying employee’s superannuation during paid parental leave.
However, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency only 48.2% of employers provided paid parental leave for an average 10 weeks. Of those, 80.9% offered full pay and 8.6% only topped up the Government scheme to full pay.
As companies look for new ways to attract top talent, paid parental leave has become a valuable differentiator. At Indeed, we offer parental leave regardless of gender, to ensure whoever is the primary caregiver has time with their newborn.
Happy parents make a happier workplace
Paid parental leave gives families the support they need to be there for the crucial first months of a baby’s life. It also reassures them that their employers value and support their lives outside the office. Experts believe paid leave helps boost female labour force participation and economic growth because it makes it easier for women to stay in the workforce after welcoming a new child to the family. The International Labour Organisation recommend mothers be entitled to at least 18 weeks of leave at their full pay rate, while the World Health Organisation recommend infants should be breastfed for at least the first 6 months of life.
When parents have access to paid leave, children benefit, too. The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation highlights that maternity leave contributes to improved child health outcomes such as physical and cognitive development, fewer premature births and reduced infant mortality. When men take paternity leave, they’re more engaged as fathers, they develop stronger bonds with their children, and it can even increase employment and pay for women.
By offering a paid parental leave program, you can send a clear message that you care about the health, wellbeing and quality of life of the people and families that power your business.
Businesses see greater productivity and less turnover
The Paid Parental Leave Productivity Commission Inquiry Report, also highlights that a leave period of 18 weeks, combined with adequate payment levels…provide the overwhelming majority of parents (more than 90%) the option of taking at least 26 weeks of leave without undue financial stress.
A growing body of research shows that offering paid parental leave isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s good for business. Paid leave programs increase worker retention and reduce turnover, which helps businesses avoid the cost of having to hire and train employees to replace those who leave to care for new children.
Tips for implementing paid parental leave to attract top talent
- Determine how much paid leave will cost and start with a program you can afford now. Adding this benefit sooner rather than later shows that you care about your workforce, and you can always extend the program in the future as budgets allow.
- Be inclusive. Understand that there are many different types of families in your workplace and don’t enforce gender or relational stereotypes in your policies. At Indeed, we offer leave to caregivers broadly to ensure every family has the time they need.
- Build parental leave into your workplace culture and employer brand. Make sure employees—especially males—feel comfortable taking advantage of the program. Encourage managers and C-suite leaders to use parental leave when they’re eligible to set an example for their teams. Publish your policy online and share info about it in interviews, since many people might be uncomfortable inquiring about it early in the hiring process.
Paid parental leave boosts worker productivity and improves employee loyalty and morale. With other industrialized nations already offering paid leave, providing these benefits makes Australian businesses more competitive in the global talent market. And ultimately benefits your business. For more tips on staying competitive for today’s top talent, visit indeed.com/hire.