It’s the luck of the draw for parental leave

The availability of employer-funded paid parental leave has reached its highest level in the six-year dataset. This might be a cause for celebration if not for the fact that one in two workplaces provide no access to paid parental leave to their employees.

In the last six years, the number of employers offering paid parental leave for primary carers has only increased by 0.9 percentage points to 49.4%. In the case of secondary carers, improvements have been stronger, with a 5 percentage point increase to 43.8%.

Access to parental leave is highly dependant on where you work.

 

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

PP change since 2016-17*

5000+

76.3

74.0

76.0

67.2

74.0

74.5

7.3

1000-4999

65.3

64.7

64.2

59.8

61.3

61.0

1.2

500-999

47.2

48.8

47.8

48.5

48.1

51.5

3.0

250-499

47.1

46.7

48.9

45.6

46.3

48.4

2.8

0-249

42.8

42.6

41.1

39.7

42.2

43.8

4.1

*Public report questionnaire definition changed in 2016-17 from “Do you offer primary carer’s leave?” to “Do you offer primary carer’s leave to men and women?”

The larger the organisation, the more likely that paid parental leave is offered. Three in four organisations with a workforce of 5000 or more offer primary carer’s leave. This number falls to just over two in five for organisations made up of 249 or fewer employees.

However, this year saw a positive uptick amongst the smaller sized organisations.

 

2017-18

2018-19

PP change

500-999

48.1

51.5

3.4

250-499

46.3

48.4

2.1

0-249

42.2

43.8

1.6

5000+

74.0

74.5

0.5

1000-4999

61.3

61.0

-0.3

The industries that offer paid parental leave are more varied. Parental leave is offered most commonly in Education and Training (79.2%), Financial and Insurance Services (76.4%) and Electricity, Gas, Water and Waster Services (75.5%).

If you work in the Administrative and Support Services (25.1%), Retail Trade (21.3%) and Accommodation and Food Services (20.6%), you are least likely to have access to paid parental leave.

Taken together, care responsibilities, family and workforce participation account for 39% of the gender pay gap. Therefore, minimising the factors that contribute to the gendered impact of children and family is imperative. Equitable access to paid parental leave is one vital strategy.

Provide leave benefits an organisations’ bottom line. Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and WGEA research found that employer-funded paid parental leave schemes covering 13-plus weeks halves the share of female managers who stop working during paid parental leave relative to those who access only the Australian Government paid parental leave scheme. These policies send a message that the organisation supports gender equity and that employees with families are valued.

Our current figures show that women account for over 93.5% of primary carer’s leave, with men’s share only reaching 6.5%. Across both types of parental leave, the figures are slightly less skewed, with women accounting for 71.5% and men comprising of the remaining 28.5%. Despite the disproportionate use, the figures are moving to a more equitable division, albeit slowly.

With the release of the sixth year of our gender equality data, we urge employers to ensure every employee, female or male, has equitable access to reasonable paid parental leave – regardless of the size and industry of their workplace. We can’t leave it to luck anymore.

Australia's latest gender equality scorecard is out now and we want your help to spread the word. 

Parental leave resources

In Australia, organisations are moving towards gender-neutral parental leave policies, offering equitable parental leave for all parents.

This paper explores the different parental leave policies available in OECD countries and offers suggestions for increasing the share of men using parental leave.