More support for working parents

Wednesday February 19, 2020

Life in Australia can be expensive. So much so that many parents are also holding down full-time jobs. To be precise, 30% of couples with kids under the age of fifteen, have both parents working full time. And a third of single parents are also balancing family commitments with being full timers.

With a significant proportion of Australia’s working population being parents, it’s possible that some are employees of your business. Perhaps you already are aware of the unique skills they can possess and the challenges they sometimes face.

From needing to master multi-tasking and organisation to teamwork and time-management, there are many transferable skills that parents can bring to a business. Their continuous practice of patience and negotiation can make hugely valuable contributions to any team.

Supporting work-life balance

Showing a commitment towards supporting positive work-life balance can be of huge benefit to employees and your business. Family-friendly policies, such as flexible working hours, can help employees to better navigate work and parental responsibilities. They can also boost well-being, build trust and increase staff retention.

There are legal obligations to be mindful of too. Such as carer’s leave, which entitles those with caring responsibilities to leave in order to manage emergencies for an immediate family or household member. For example, needing to take care of a sick child that can’t attend their usual care arrangements.

Understanding challenges

Needing to sort childcare can be a common difficulty for working parents, but one that can often be swiftly resolved. However, there can be times when employees experience longer term stress due to devastating family circumstances – such as birth-related complications, stillbirth or the death of an infant. All of these can be traumatic and life changing. There is likely to be a period of adjustment, during which employees may need support and understanding from their employer.

Although many employers will be sympathetic towards these situations and recognise the consequences for those involved, the current legal framework of support surrounding such life experiences has been criticised for being “insufficient” or causing frustration.

For example, under the Fair Work Act, employers can ask an employee back to work after a stillbirth with just six weeks’ notice.

Changing entitlements

After careful consideration, the government has listened and the law is set to change later this year. These are important changes to the employment entitlements of working parents that your business will need to adhere to in order to stay compliant.

Acknowledging the devastation that losing a child can cause, the government has announced that parents dealing with a stillbirth or infant death will be guaranteed 12 months of unpaid parental leave. This will provide them with the same entitlements as parents with healthy babies.

In another change, which is expected to increase flexibility for working parents, those with premature or hospitalised babies will be allowed to return to work if they wish, meaning that they can save their leave entitlement for when their child is released, enjoying quality time together at home.

Further support for you

If you would like to know more about important legislative changes that could impact your business this year, or want to implement family-friendly policies to better support the working parents of your workforce, contact us today.

We’ll take the time to understand your unique business needs and find the best solution for you.

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