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It's About Time - Chapter 4

It's About Time

Chapter 4: Striking the balance in the workplace

4.1 Introduction
4.2 The key issues
4.3 Workplace relations framework
4.4 Recognising the relationship between paid work and caring work
4.5 Certainty and flexibility in the workplace
4.6 Structural change to support gender and carer equality
4.7 The need for expanded legal rights
4.8 Workplace culture and use of family-friendly policies
4.9 A life cycle approach to work and a universal approach to family-friendly flexibility
4.10 Community concern about WorkChoices and its impact on paid work and family/carer responsibilities
4.11 Conclusion

4.1 Introduction

While it is clear that the workplace is central to any discussion of balancing paid work and family, the relationship of the workplace to family life is inadequately acknowledged in public debate. Just as families rely on paid work for economic sustenance, workplaces rely on the unpaid work that takes place in families to sustain the labour force. The "ideal worker" is commonly understood as an individual who can meet the demands of paid work without any interruptions from family life.1 Against this ideal, those workers who do have caring responsibilities may be seen as falling short. In this model, care for others is viewed as a "choice" that individual workers make, rather than an inevitable and integral part of working life.

In consultations with HREOC, employees were highly conscious of the economic and regulatory demands made on employers in the contemporary labour market and appreciative of employers who provided flexible work structures. However, the overwhelming feeling was that employees were so pressured by the combined demands of paid work and family life that better ways of combining them have to be found.

4.2 The key issues

The Striking the Balance discussion paper identified some key features of contemporary working life that potentially affect the ability of individuals to successfully balance their paid work and their family and carer responsibilities. These include longer working hours, work intensification and an increase in casual and part time work. The Striking the Balance discussion paper also posed broad questions about the role that workplace structures and workplace cultures play in the ability employees have to balance paid work and care.

In response to these questions, the following emerged as the key issues for addressing paid work/care balance in the workplace:

  • increased recognition of the relationship between workplaces and the broader community, and specifically of the care arrangements that support the workplace;
  • a mix of both certainty and flexibility in the conditions of work, adaptable for employees across the life course;
  • the need for structural changes to support gender equality and equality for carers (such as improving pay equity and quality part time work);
  • expanded legal rights, specifically improved protection from discrimination, a right to paid maternity leave and a right to request flexible work arrangements; and
  • the need for cultural change in workplaces to implement existing family-friendly provisions and drive further changes.

A common issue that was raised in consultations with employers and in submissions from employer representatives was the idea that a prescriptive "one-size-fits-all" approach to paid work and family issues would not be a workable solution.2 Accordingly, this discussion proceeds with the recognition that there is not likely to be one solution that can be implemented across all industries, occupations and employers. It seeks instead to outline the principles that workplaces could adopt and the role that workplaces can play as an essential part of a national response to balancing paid work and care.

Before discussing these issues, this chapter will give an overview of the Australian workplace relations framework, in particular in the context of recent changes to federal workplace relations legislation.

4.3 Workplace relations framework

The structural and legal framework for the majority of workplaces in Australia is set out in the federal Workplace Relations Act 1996. The Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Act 2005 (WorkChoices) came into effect in March 2006 representing one of the most significant changes to workplace relations arrangements in Australia since federation.

The reforms have resulted in significant community debate and many individuals and organisations raised concerns about the operation of WorkChoices with HREOC in submissions and consultations. These concerns are discussed further in section 4.10.

A range of recommendations in relation to the federal workplace relations framework can be found in subsequent sections.

The following sets out the key features of the WorkChoices system.

4.4 Recognising the relationship between paid work and caring work

Central to a new approach to paid work and family/carer responsibilities is a change in the philosophy that underlies Australia's approach to paid work. Rather than seeing workplaces as peripheral to the choices individuals and families make about managing their family and carer responsibilities, the workplace needs to be considered as a central agent in the construction of those choices.

Workplaces are part of society and workers are not "care-less"

Workplace structures and cultures contribute to the wider culture in which men and women live. Some consultations with employers showed a genuine belief that many paid work and family/care issues, such as gender equality, are beyond the reach or influence of workplaces and therefore beyond the scope of individual workplaces to address. However other consultations and submissions argued persuasively that workplaces can actively contribute to a culture of inequality through, for example, unequal pay, gender segregation in employment, limited or non-existent family-friendly policies and male dominated work cultures with hostile attitudes toward workers with family/carer responsibilities.3

Recognition that workplaces do not exist outside of the social context in which individuals make their decisions and meet their responsibilities to care also entails acknowledging care as the necessary support for workplaces and by extension the economy as a whole. As one submission put it:

If we think about the whole economy it is not possible to sustain the artificial public/private divide. Children can no longer be seen as simply a private matter for families rather than a responsibility of the whole community. Even more significantly, our businesses and our communities are exposed as free-riding on the unpaid labour of parents, particularly mothers (Folbre 2001). People are contributing to the economy by providing care for others.4

Another submission pointed out the reliance of employers on the unpaid labour that underpins the workforce.

... unpaid work directly and indirectly subsidises the performance of paid work, and the employers and enterprises for which it is performed ... We need to link unpaid caring work with paid employment and to draw attention to the extent to which the economy depends on unpaid caring work to subsidise paid work.5

Caring is not a "choice"

It is also important that employers and employees share a common understanding that while preferences for combining paid work and care may vary, as will employers' ability to meet them, caring itself is not a "choice". Very few individuals have no caring or other unpaid responsibilities across their working lives, whether this is a responsibility for raising children, caring for older relatives or caring for family members with an illness or disability. Paid and unpaid caring work is interdependent and, as one submission pointed out, those who do not have care responsibilities depend on the care of others:

The "male breadwinner" depends as much on the unpaid work of his partner as she depends on his wage.6

The myth of the "ideal worker" as one who has no caring responsibilities needs to be replaced with a more realistic ideal of shared work and valued care, as discussed in Chapter 2. To do this involves change on a number of fronts in the paid workforce. These changes are discussed below.

4.5 Certainty and flexibility in the workplace

HREOC heard from many workplace participants that a mix of certainty and flexibility in the workplace is required in order to meet the diverse range of paid work and care needs.

Certainty of working hours and reasonable length of hours

Certainty of working hours, both in length and regularity, is one aspect of structural change that emerged as important in public submissions and consultations.

The existing way in which many families attempt to address the lack of balance between paid work and family/carer responsibilities - part time work for women - not only comes at an economic cost to those women, but ignores the issue of long working hours and entrenches long hours for many men so they can meet their family's economic needs.

For salaried men in particular long hours of work were a major issue, confirming the statistics reported in the Striking the Balance discussion paper and elsewhere.7 A male respondent in a survey cited by the Community and Public Sector Union pointed out the direct cost of long hours:

I realised with the birth of my first child that my current job was not going to pay for the bills, mortgage and her child care. I had to strive to get a job with better pay and this forced me to increase my hours at work. This has had a noticeable negative impact on my family life.8

A submission from the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association argued for curbing the length of unpaid overtime:

Controls on the number of hours people can work each week, and preventing the working of unpaid overtime, would likely open up many new job opportunities. The Reasonable Hours Test Case decision should be applied across the workforce. These changes would result in a broader and fairer distribution of work. They would allow more people to both participate in the paid workforce and their families. They would facilitate achievement of better work-family balance.9

Recent international research confirms the importance of fewer work hours to better reconciliation of paid work and family life, with both female and male respondents in the 2004 European Social Survey identifying shorter working hours as having the most effect on their work/life balance.10

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union argued that predictable hours and secure employment are essential to workers balancing paid work and family/carer responsibilities.

Secure and predictable employment is fundamental for workers balancing work and family commitments ... Stable working hours and flexible leave arrangements that allow for planned and unplanned contingencies, enhance the work/life balance of workers. Penalty rates for overtime and work outside of ordinary hours also contribute by giving workers financial compensation for working longer or less sociable hours ... Insecure, unreliable casual employment is corrosive to family life.11

Many employers and managers recognised that long hours were not necessarily associated with improved performance or greater productivity, with some noting that it can have a negative bottom line impact.12 A male middle manager noted that: "If you make life difficult that does have an impact on productivity and retention".13 However, as noted below in relation to implementing family-friendly policies, managers may not have the necessary skills or organisational support to implement family-friendly working time arrangements.14

Long working hours also have an effect beyond individual experience and productivity. Where long hours are entrenched within workplaces they increase employer and colleague expectations and contribute to a family-hostile work culture.15 Long hours of paid work also reinforce the traditional breadwinner/home carer model by assuming that workers are "care-free" and able to devote more time to paid work.16

Research in the UK has found that while the "right to request" legislation (which gives employees a right to request flexible working arrangements to meet caring needs) has been both popular and successful for many employees with caring responsibilities for young children, the legislation has had little or no impact on the extent of long hours working.17 The long hours culture may be one of the reasons why men find it harder both to request flexible working and to have their requests accepted by employers. Variable and unsocial hours present particular problems under the right to request flexible work.

The rationing approach to flexible working is particularly problematic in relation to variable hours, evening and weekend work. There are obvious difficulties for parents and other carers when both partners or a sole carer has irregular hours.

HREOC proposes a stronger and more coherent national working hours framework which combines the promotion of flexibility with workplace support and structures designed to limit long hours working. This framework would be particularly useful for salaried workers whose working time arrangements are less likely to conform to the standard 38 hour week as established in the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard.18 Encouraging workplace negotiation about working time arrangements and providing incentives to employers to design working hours arrangements that meet the needs of their employees with family/carer responsibilities could form part of this framework.

RECOMMENDATION 7:

That the Australian Government establish a national working hours framework which promotes flexibility and encourages workplaces to limit long hours working.

In developing this framework, the Australian Government should consider the following:

  1. a program to address long and unpredictable working hours;
  2. a program to encourage workplace level negotiations about working time arrangements;
  3. incentives to employers to offer flexible working arrangements which reflect employee needs across the life cycle; and
  4. initiatives aimed at changing the organisation of work so that it better meets the needs of employees with family and carer responsibilities.

Greater workplace flexibility to meet the range of worker and carer needs

Lack of carer-friendly flexibility in working hours also affects the capacity of people with caring responsibilities for older people and people with disability to participate in employment. Many people with primary caring responsibilities for older people or people with disability are unable to participate in paid work because of difficulty in arranging working hours, a loss of skills from being out of the workforce and a lack of alternative care arrangements.19 For many carers, participation in paid work may not be an option while for others part time work may be the only feasible option.20

Submissions and consultations noted that the needs of carers for older people and people with disability requiring care differed from those with children, pointing to a need for greater recognition of this by employers.21

Demands for elder care may be less predictable and more sporadic depending on the degree of independence experienced by older family members. Understanding of elder care responsibilities by employers is important and greater flexibility and negotiation is needed within workplaces for workers to meet these needs for care. In addition to general family-friendly provisions such as reduced working hours, flex time or working from home, specific policies that are useful for elder care include capacity to monitor throughout the day through support phone calls, extended lunch breaks to allow for meal preparation and access to carer's leave to accompany elders to appointments.22 Similar needs also often arise for carers of people with disability. These policies will in most cases pose negligible cost for employers and will increasingly become a necessary part of the working day as the population ages and the size of the workforce ages.23

Other policies useful for elder carers and carers of people with disability include the ability to take extra leave when paid leave runs out, being able to undertake carer training and support (as well as care itself) and greater promotion of family-friendly provisions generally to encourage acceptance within the workforce so that employees do not feel pressured to resign.24

Submissions also pointed to the need to consider not only workers caring for people with disability but workers with a disability who have caring responsibilities. People with disability face higher barriers to employment than other groups in Australia, despite representing 16.6 per cent of Australia's working age population.25 Workforce participation for women with disability is lower than that of men with disability, suggesting that balancing paid work with caring work is more complicated for women with disability.26 Women with disability who have caring responsibilities often face particular barriers in terms of transitioning from welfare to work. These include additional costs required by employment and ceasing eligibility for associated welfare entitlements, as well as a lack of flexibility in disability services.27 This lack of flexibility and support hampers the capacity of women with disability to balance the roles of carer and employee, making it even more difficult than it is for other women.28

Recommendations aimed at increasing flexibility within workplaces to deal with the range of caring and other employee needs are discussed further in sections 4.7 and 4.9.

4.6 Structural change to support gender and carer equality

Improvements to workplace policies and part time working conditions emerged in submissions and consultations as key structural changes that would allow carers, particularly women, to continue in paid employment without experiencing a downward spiral in terms of working conditions. Without access to flexible working arrangements and quality part time work, carers can become locked into a pattern of employment inequality, with lower wages and fewer opportunities.

Family-friendly policies that incorporate gender equality

A range of family-friendly measures were canvassed in submissions and consultations as ways of helping employees manage their paid work and family and carer responsibilities. Based on an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) definition, HREOC understands family-friendly policies as those that:

  • facilitate the reconciliation of work and family life through adequate family and child development resources;
  • facilitate parental and other carers' choice about work and care; and
  • promote gender equality in employment opportunities.29

This last part of the definition emerged as particularly important in our consultation process, because of gender differences in access to and use of various family-friendly provisions such as flexible working hours, paid leave provisions and working part time.

Access to paid leave entitlements such as parental and/or maternity and paternity leave, as discussed in section 4.7, is crucial for those with care responsibilities. The patchy coverage of these entitlements was evident from our consultations with employees and unions, who confirmed that they were more likely to be offered to white collar professionals on a "grace and favour" basis.30

Access to paid leave entitlements such as paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave has increased in recent years, although coverage differs widely across occupations and industries.31 This increase represents a growing recognition by employers of the business case arguments for paid leave as a way of retaining valued staff and perhaps also a response to the absence of a much needed national scheme. Evidence was provided in support of employers' awareness of the benefits of paid leave for employers and employees.32 It is crucial that these leave options are widely available and not limited to the public service and large companies employing highly skilled workers.

International evidence highlights the importance of paid leave entitlements in encouraging fathers to take parental leave.33 In Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden where paid leave quotas have been introduced for fathers on a "use it or lose it" basis, leave taking by fathers has more than doubled in recent years.34 Other mechanisms such as the Italian system in which the total length of parental leave is extended if the father also takes parental leave can also act as encouragement to men.35

There is some evidence which demonstrates that the impact of fathers taking parental leave is felt beyond the period of leave itself, with studies showing that men who take ninety days or more of parental leave show increased time spent in child care over the long term.36

Other paid leave entitlements such as personal leave and annual leave are also important to employees who use them to help meet sporadic needs for care. These forms of leave emerged as particularly important for fathers in our focus groups and submissions, with men more likely to take these forms of leave for family/carer responsibilities than other forms of leave.37 This indicates that there may be scope for types of leave and other family-friendly arrangements that may better suit men's preferences and needs for balancing paid work and family/carer responsibilities. Further research and consultation on this issue would be instructive.

Quality part time work

Many submissions and focus groups showed that part time work played a large role in women's responses to managing their family/carer responsibilities. This is evidenced by the high number of Australian women in part time employment. Of all 2 936 200 people working part time, 71 per cent are women.38 Recent research confirms that the most common arrangement for partnered women with children under fifteen is part time work, with partners working full time.39 However this research also shows that hours of part time work often do not meet individual preferences, with many women wanting to work more hours.40 ABS statistics show that in September 2005 women made up 66 percent of all underemployed part time workers, compared with 62 per cent in September 2004. Of these women who were part time workers in 2005, half were looking for more hours of work.41

HREOC's consultations and focus groups with employees and parents confirmed that the option of part time work for women with care responsibilities was often not ideal in terms of preferred hours and also in terms of job quality. One employer representative commented on women downshifting to lower status jobs to accommodate their family and carer responsibilities.

Many women who go into retail do so part time to fit around family ... professional women take a cut in status, for example, teachers, legal workers, and some from nursing move into shop assistant part time roles.42

A submission from an individual stated that:

I have a PhD in Molecular Biology as well as being a registered pharmacist. I also have two young children ... and as such I am employed part-time (as a pharmacist) rather than full time as a medical research[er], which would be far more fulfilling.43

This represents a loss of talent and skills for the labour market as a whole, and is a waste of both public and private investment in education and development.44

While part time work arrangements are common among Australian women with children and among carers of older people and people with disability, this fact does not necessarily indicate a preference for part time work. A recent study highlighted the contextual and shifting nature of women's paid work preferences, where some respondents indicated a preference for part time work because they were solely responsible for unpaid work in the home.45 It is not surprising to see the influence of unpaid work on women's preferences, for as noted in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, women carry a disproportionate load of unpaid work in the home.46 More equitable sharing of unpaid responsibilities in the home would arguably affect paid work preferences among women with family and carer responsibilities, resulting in an increase in women's labour market participation.

Submissions drawing on Australian data highlight the poor quality of much part time work in Australia.47 A submission from Industrial Relations Victoria summarised other negative effects.

Part-time employment has a negative impact on lifelong earnings and reinforces a women's subordinate role in the labour market and the household. Lower earnings are a result not only of the lower number of hours worked but also the type of part-time positions that are available. Permanent part-time work is marginalised through the lack of higher earnings, promotion, and training opportunities that it provides.48

Part time work in Australia carries with it many earnings penalties aside from the expected lower income while working shorter hours. Research conducted by Jenny Chalmers and Trish Hill found that:

Part-time work experience detracts from career advancement as measured by earnings. Our estimates suggest that a woman who reduces her hours to a part-time level on the birth of a child, for example, can expect to earn less per week than she did before working part-time when, and if, if she returns to full-time hours. Not only should she expect to earn less per week than when she last worked full-time, but she should also anticipate giving up the increase in her earnings that she would have experienced if she had remained working full-time.49

In addition, part time work is often casual employment which lacks the job security and leave entitlements of permanent work, and is more likely to be poorly remunerated.

Focus groups demonstrated that there is resistance among some employers to the idea of part time work for managers, although there were also instances where this had been achieved for high level managers with a positive flow on for others in the organisation.50 This suggests that workplace cultures, as opposed to operational constraints, play a key role in framing employer responses to ideas for balancing paid work and care (this is discussed further in section 4.8).

The effects of job-sharing can be similar to those of poor quality part time work. A submission from an individual highlighted the lived effects of a poorly managed job-share arrangement.

Although job-share benefits my family in allowing me to spend extra time with our children, it is not a simple matter of less-pay-same-role. The surface appearance is of the same role, but it is accompanied by additional and expected work without pay and an effective career demotion ... there is a level of 'hidden' discrimination that accompanies it. Prior to parental leave, I held a portfolio of large, complex, valuable clients. On returning to work, I was allocated a large number of small and unprofitable clients. As profit per client is linked directly to performance, pay and bonuses, this has effectively crippled my ability to reach the goals set. It is career hindering, and prevents me obtaining bonuses and pay rises that others in my role are able to reach.51

Given the high numbers of women with caring responsibilities in part time roles there is a clear need to remove the penalties associated with much part time work, the central features of which should include at the very least:

  • secure as opposed to casual employment;
  • entitlements to paid leave;
  • a right to request flexible work arrangements;
  • the ability to work part time in one's normal occupation; and
  • the ability to continue accessing career training and development.

Submissions pointed out a range of other objectives for assessing the quality of part time work, including flexibility in number of hours and schedules, employment security and inclusion in the workplace culture and work group.52

Part time work also needs to be accessible to both women and men. An improvement in the quality of part time work would arguably increase the numbers of men in part time roles, especially fathers who wish to spend more time with their families but who cannot do so due to being locked into full time breadwinner roles.53 Greater numbers of men in part time roles may also improve the status of part time work.

The features of quality part time work as outlined above may not always be practical for all industries and occupations. However, there is scope to improve the quality of part time work through targeted programs and industry-specific resources. An example of recent work in this area is the industry guidelines produced by Industrial Relations Victoria for nursing, hospitality, local government, retail and the legal profession.54

The right to request flexible work arrangements, as discussed in Chapter 3 and below,55 would also go some way to reducing the penalties currently associated with part time work in Australia. In particular, it would assist employees by encouraging employers to consider the part time work option seriously within the context of employees' usual occupation.

RECOMMENDATION 8:

That the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations develop industry specific resources in consultation with relevant employer and employee organisations in both blue and white collar industries to encourage the development of quality part time work.

RECOMMENDATION 9:

That the Australian Government establish a grants program to assist businesses to increase the number of senior and quality jobs that are available part time. This initiative would supply matched funding to businesses and voluntary organisations for projects designed to embed quality part time work in their organisations.

Equal pay and equal opportunities in paid and unpaid work Similarly equal pay and a less gender segregated workforce would help both men and women achieve the paid work and care arrangements that suit them.

Australian women are over-represented in certain areas of employment, and this is commonly known as occupational segregation. Women are much more likely to be employed in industries such as accommodation, cafes and restaurants, cultural and recreational services, health and community services, personal and other services and retail trade. These industries have a high level of award only coverage (i.e. minimum conditions), high levels of part time work and low hourly earnings.56 Along with other factors (discussed below), this occupational segregation contributes to pay inequity between men and women. Increasing the numbers of women in non-traditional industries and occupations is one way of breaking down this segregation. This could also form part of the Australian Government's focus on addressing current skills shortages.57

Pay inequality was much cited during consultations and submissions as a major factor in determining the choices men and women make about who undertakes care within couple families.58

The Government of Western Australia wrote:

When a two income family is faced with the loss of one income to enable a parent to leave the paid workforce to care for children or other family, the most economically beneficial outcome is for the lowest earning parent to cease or reduce paid work. Given the persistence of the pay gap, which is substantial when non-ordinary earnings are taken into account, it seems probable that many families cannot afford to pursue the equal sharing of caring roles or would prefer the advantages of additional income over a more equal caring arrangement. Fundamentally, the concept of the equal sharing of caring responsibilities carries a cost for families.59

The Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research Monash University reported on the findings from a study examining factors driving fertility decisions.

The gender wage gap between women and men curtailed the flexibility families had to share caring labour. Women identified differential wage earnings opportunities between themselves and their male partners as central to decisions they made to carry the bulk of caring labour. These decisions then had impact[s] on their future labour market activities.60

The ways in which pay inequality (and other discriminatory work conditions) affect employees' choices are complex and can be too easily dismissed with the claim that it is an inevitable consequence of women's own preferences for reduced hours of paid work while their children are young.61 This overlooks the gendered presumption that the ideal worker" will be a breadwinner" without primary caring responsibilities, as well as the constraints that shape preferences.62 For example, a culture of long hours of work in a workplace may mean that women employees adjust their expectations and do not seek senior positions because of the impact it would have on their ability to manage their family and carer responsibilities.63

It also overlooks the more systemic barrier that unequal pay produces in that it forces the higher earner - usually the male in couple families - to take on the lion's share of paid work while the lower earner is left with the lion's share of unpaid caring responsibilities, regardless of parenting preferences or the needs of the recipients of care.64 The constraints that pay inequity imposes affect not only women but men who may want to undertake more unpaid caring work.

The social expectation of women giving birth and then staying home to care for children is reinforced through pay inequity. As long as women continue to earn on average less than men, the pressure on women to give up paid employment in exchange for unpaid caring obligations will continue. This ongoing gender inequity in pay rates also limits the life choices of men to undertake non-traditional roles because families cannot afford to lose the larger part of a double income.65

To create real choice for men and women, a greater effort is required to progress pay equity. Women in Australia currently earn only 83.9 percent of the male dollar for full time ordinary time earnings.66 While the gender pay gap in Australia is smaller than in many other comparable countries67 it is generally accepted that this is primarily due to the historical advantage enjoyed by Australian women arising from the 1972 Equal Pay Caseand the implementation of that decision through a centralised system of industrial awards covering most employees.68

To accelerate progress towards pay equity, HREOC has previously suggested a variety of measures.69 HREOC's suggestions for tackling the issue of pay inequity include the following recommendations for the Australian Fair Pay Commission (AFPC):

  • that the AFPC take an active role in addressing pay inequities by establishing a specialist unit to undertake ongoing research and monitoring in relation to the pay gap between men and women in Australia and the role of the Federal Minimum Wage (FMW);
  • that the AFPC undertake a series of investigations focused on undervaluation and comparative worth in female dominated occupations and industries particularly focusing on recognising 'soft' skills involved in caring work, knowledge work and communication, employee qualifications and on-the-job training as well as changing job demands and increased technology;
  • that the FMW is set at a level relative to average weekly earnings for all employees and relative to men's earnings, so that it is likely to reduce rather than increase gender pay inequity; and
  • that Australian Pay and Classification Scales contain detailed descriptors covering the full range of skills and employee attributes which can provide clear, skill based career paths for employees, particularly in female dominated industries and occupations.70

RECOMMENDATION 10:

That the Australian Government make a substantial commitment to a suite of measures to address the gender pay gap incorporating elements previously identified by HREOC.

RECOMMENDATION 11:

Monitoring of women's wage and employment conditions

a) That the Office of the Employment Advocate be required to monitor and publish annually information about the wages and employment conditions in Australian Workplace Agreements with a particular emphasis on gender differentiated data.

b) That the Australian Fair Pay Commission undertake a program of monitoring and research with respect to the federal minimum wage and its impact on women workers. Particular attention should be paid to vulnerable groups of women employees with limited bargaining power, especially women with a disability, young women, women from CALD and Indigenous backgrounds, and women working in less protected sectors of the labour market, such as outworkers.

RECOMMENDATION 12:

That the Department of Education Science and Training, through the National Skills Shortages Strategy and in line with Shaping our Future: Australia's National Strategy for Vocational Education and Training 2004 - 2010, fund the development of innovative projects to increase the number of girls and women in non-traditional occupations in areas of skill shortages. This should be done in cooperation with State and Territory training authorities.

4.7 The need for expanded legal rights

Submissions and consultations highlighted the need for additional legislative provisions to assist workers to balance their paid work with their family/carer responsibilities in three key areas: paid leave, a right to request flexible work arrangements and carer's leave.

Paid maternity leave and paid parental leave

Many submissions reiterated their support for either HREOC's previous proposal for a nationally funded 14 week system of paid maternity leave, or similar Australian Government funded systems.71 Australia remains one of only two OECD countries that do not have a legislated paid maternity leave system.72

As detailed in HREOC's 2002 report Valuing Parenthood: Options for paid maternity leave, paid maternity leave provides a clear range of health, welfare and economic benefits to women, their newborn children and families particularly in providing a period of recovery from childbirth, allowing women to establish breastfeeding and bond with their baby and providing economic security to mothers by maintaining labour force attachment as well as assisting with the direct costs of children.73

Since the release of the Valuing Parenthood report, the Australian Government has introduced a one-off maternity payment on the birth of a child, currently worth $4 100, however this fails to meet all of the aims of a national paid maternity leave scheme.

One submission placed Australia's lack of a paid maternity leave scheme within an international context, noting that Australia's work and care supports, in terms of paid leave, remain at the bottom end of international standards across the developed world in this respect".74 This submission also pointed to the association between paid maternity leave and significant falls in neonatal death rates.

Other submissions connected the benefits of paid maternity leave in terms of increased labour force attachment for women and its role in creating greater decision-making choice for both women and men.75 One submission argued that lack of paid maternity leave determines that women will be the primary care giver as income is lost during confinement and early care".76

Some submissions suggested to HREOC that paid paternity leave or paid parental leave available to fathers and partners should be considered an essential family-friendly provision.77

Job Watch Inc advocated paid paternity leave of at least one week as a way of creating a father-friendly workplace".78

The YWCA Australia wrote:

Australians should be able to choose to have a child and not feel pressured to give up their income or indeed, their employment. A government funded maternity payment could address disadvantage and inequality in the workforce and at home by providing financial support to women. Consideration must also be given here to allowing flexibility within this leave to be taken by fathers and adoptive parents.79

An individual submission argued that paid paternity leave would help cement the important role of fathers in parenting and help break down stereotyped caring roles.

If the Government is serious about promoting family friendly workplaces and improving the role of fathers as positive role models for Australian children - it should legislate to introduce mandatory paternity leave provisions. Unless there is such a change, then there will simply be the entrenchment of historical sex stereotyped roles - not by choice, but by necessity as the role of fathers will not be supported or protected.80

HREOC has considered this support for paid paternity leave and recognises the value of paid leave in assisting both the wellbeing of children and encouraging men to increase their involvement in caring for children in the early years (see Chapter 5 for further discussion of this point). HREOC acknowledges that some organisations already provide paid paternity leave, and that many men take other forms of paid leave on the birth of their children.81 A recent EOWA survey showed that 32 percent of its reporting organisations provide paid paternity leave, with 83 per cent providing between 1-2 weeks of paid leave.82 However these forms of leave are not universally available to Australian fathers.

As canvassed in our 2002 paper A Time to Value: Proposal for a national paid maternity leave scheme,83 in an environment in which Australia still lacks a national paid maternity leave scheme for women, HREOC continues to be of the view that the introduction of a 14 week minimum national paid maternity leave scheme for women remains a priority. Once such a scheme is fully introduced, the Australian Government should consider phasing in a more comprehensive scheme including paid paternity leave at the time of birth, and an extended period of paid parental leave that could be taken by either parent.84

Other submissions supported paid parental or family leave over separate forms of leave. The NSW Commission for Children and Young People advocated a national paid parental leave scheme set at a minimum standard according to what benefits children.85

The New South Wales Equal Employment Opportunity Practitioners' Association supported paid parental leave with eligibility dependent upon the male spouse accessing a proportion of the leave to take up caring responsibilities, arguing that this is a way of encouraging men to be involved early in parenting.86 A submission from a group of student researchers at the University of Sydney recommended a paid parental leave system equally available and accessible to both men and women" as one way of overcoming the institutional and cultural barriers to better balance between paid work and family/carer responsibilities.87

These leave types also have the potential to recognise different types of caring responsibilities as well as a more diverse range of family relationships, such as same-sex families and extended kinship and family networks in Indigenous communities. As a submission from Anna Chapman pointed out, these family types and the caring arrangements within them are under-researched and not well served by current legislative provisions.88

Whatever the form that paid leave for workers with family/carer responsibilities takes, it is clear that paid leave entitlements are essential for recognising and supporting a shared work - valued care approach. Paid leave encourages workers with family/carer responsibilities to remain attached to the workforce, providing financial and job security at a time when care needs are high. It also provides choice for men and women who wish to give parental care to their children in their early years, particularly when it is combined with an extended period of unpaid leave.

RECOMMENDATION 13:

That the Australian Government as a matter of priority introduce a national, government funded scheme of paid maternity leave of 14 weeks at the level of the federal minimum wage, as recommended by HREOC in A Time to Value: Proposal for a National Paid Maternity Leave Scheme (2002).

RECOMMENDATION 14:

Following the introduction of a 14 week paid maternity leave scheme, the Australian Government should consider phasing in a more comprehensive scheme of paid parental leave consisting of:

a) At a minimum, two weeks of paid paternity leave to be taken at the birth of the child; and

b) A further 38 weeks of paid parental leave that is available to either parent.

A right to request and a duty to consider flexible working

HREOC has recommended, in Chapter 3, that such a right be introduced in the proposed Family Responsibilities and Carers' Rights Act, and considers this to be a central plank of law reform to protect carers at work.

The right to request variations to working arrangements to meet caring needs as they arise, including flexibility around start and finish times, occasional change of working hours and occasional working from home, emerged in consultations and within submissions as just as important to employees as paid leave entitlements, particularly for workers with young and school aged children.89

While consultations made it clear that some types of employment do not suit these flexible arrangements, it is important to encourage employers and managers in particular to consider these options seriously. Consultations and focus groups showed this to be a central part of a proper response to paid work and family issues, particularly where resistance is not due to operational constraints but to an inability to think positively and creatively about things such as job redesign.

Carer's Leave entitlements

As noted above, submissions and consultations highlighted the need for greater support for carers of older people and people with disability requiring care. The ability to take extra unpaid carer's leave is an important workplace flexibility for those whose need to provide care is more sporadic and less predictable.90

Australia has an ageing population and a corresponding ageing workforce, as discussed in Chapter 2 and in the Striking the Balance discussion paper.91 With projected care needs set to increase in line with this demographic change, older workers will increasingly be called upon to undertake unpaid care work, which for many will overlap with their longer working lives. As noted in Chapter 8, this unpaid care would cost $30.5 billion to replace if it was no longer provided informally.92 In order to support this care, and cognizant of the cost to employers of a large scale exit from an ever-diminishing supply of workers, greater and expanded carer's leave provisions are a necessary expansion of legal rights. Job protection acknowledges both in practical terms and symbolically the importance of unpaid care to the community as a whole, including business and government.93 A number of big businesses are already leading the way in recognition of this increasing care need by providing elder care policies.94

An increase in the Personal/Carer's Leave Standard is a necessary support for employees with increasing caring responsibilities.95

Further, a mirroring of the 12 month unpaid Parental Leave Standard should be considered to address other forms of care that workers provide to other family members throughout the life cycle. In light of the ageing of the population and the ageing workforce, HREOC recommends that the Australian Government consider introducing a new entitlement to meet the emerging need for care.

RECOMMENDATION 15:

Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard

a) That the Personal/Carer's Leave Standard be increased from 10 days to 20 days per annum with 10 days to be non-accumulative.

b) That the Australian Government consider introducing a new 12 month unpaid Carer's Leave Standard to be made available to employees who need to attend to the care of a seriously or terminally ill dependent. Like the Parental Leave Standard, this new Standard should be job protected and available to employees who have 12 months continuous service.

4.8 Workplace culture and use of family-friendly policies

Recommendations for legal reform in the areas identified above are important base line responses to the problems that workers experience in combining paid work with their family/carer responsibilities. However, in order for these changes to be implemented in a way that is productive for both employees and employers, they need to be incorporated with other structural and cultural changes within the workplace. In particular, barriers to uptake of family-friendly policies need to be addressed and measures introduced that will improve understanding and use of family-friendly policies.

Increased awareness of family-friendly policies and other workplace flexibilities

A major finding from consultations and focus groups discussing family-friendly measures was that there needs to be greater awareness about existing family-friendly provisions within workplaces, such as carer's leave and unpaid parental leave for primary carers, particularly among men. One of the main reasons men do not take up the family-friendly arrangements available to them is because they are not sufficiently aware of them.96 Other reasons for men's low take up of family-friendly workplace arrangements include concerns about money, concerns about adverse effects on careers, fears about job security, negative attitudes of supervisors and an overall perceived lack of support.97

Lack of awareness about family-friendly entitlements was not limited to men and was particularly noted with reference to some groups of employees. People with disability were identified as one such group, with one submission claiming that women with disability are less likely to receive information about their workplace rights in relation to family and carer responsibilities.

This is the case in relation to disability discrimination as well as sex discrimination, but many women with disability report knowing less about their rights as women because this information is produced and distributed in ways that are inaccessible to them.98

HREOC has found that the pressures of paid work are different for women and men. Many men who spoke to HREOC mentioned their lack of choice due to the constraints imposed by inflexible workplaces and their partner's lower earning capacity.99 Our finding complements recent data that shows a high percentage of fathers with young children (nearly 66 per cent) feel that their paid work interferes with their ability to take part in family life.100

Women who gave evidence to HREOC generally had greater access to family-friendly provisions although this came at a cost in terms of job quality, satisfaction with hours worked and career aspirations.101 For some women, particularly professional women, they could take advantage of family-friendly options such as part time work in the form of four day weeks. However workloads did not necessarily decrease while time pressures increased.102

Better strategies for implementing family-friendly policies

Male and female employees across different industries and occupations noted that while there were family-friendly policies in their workplaces they are often either not implemented or employees who take them up are marginalised within their organisation. In some industries, particularly male dominated ones, family-friendly options are simply not available.103

One of the barriers to accessing family-friendly arrangements that was reported to HREOC is a lack of implementation by managers. The Queensland Government submission noted that:

Supervisors play a key role in the effectiveness of work-family policies and programs, because they may encourage or discourage employees to participate in these programs, or because they may reinforce cultural norms that undermine employees' efforts to integrate their work and family lives.104

The Independent Education Union of Australia cited a survey that found that resentment from managers having to become more adaptable, lack of knowledge and understanding of the issues and a workplace culture that views family-friendly policies as "soft" and "women's business" were key challenges for the implementation of family-friendly policies.105

Managers and supervisors need to be made aware of the key role they play and be supported in their efforts to assist their employees by their organisation. Some submissions argued that managers should be assessed on their ability to respond to and implement family-friendly arrangements for their staff as part of their performance appraisals.106 This strategy would address situations where managers feel challenged by the task of implementing family-friendly policies, particularly those who may resent the task because of being overloaded with their other management responsibilities.

Change, many argued, needs to come from the top down, with role modeling by senior staff. As one submission put it:

Individual organisations that have shifted to a more accommodating work/life balance culture, have done so because their leaders have demonstrated commitment and decreed changes. The leadership and role modelling is very important in sending a positive message throughout the organisation at all levels and requires courage.107

Examples were given in HREOC consultations of the massive cultural shift that occurs when senior management staff themselves adopt a family-friendly arrangement, such as in the case of one organisation where two senior men asked for and received part time roles.108

Greater involvement and leadership by individual men is also needed to challenge cultures and perceptions about family-friendly arrangements relating only to women. One submission argued that men in management and other professional and leadership positions are well placed to lead this cultural change.109

It was pointed out that in work teams where some employees have family-friendly arrangements there can be resentment among co-workers, particular where arrangements are not offered or perceived as offered on an equal basis. Workloads in teams where employees use family-friendly arrangements need to be managed properly to avoid resentment from colleagues.110 Along with good communication and transparency in how family-friendly policies are implemented, proper management of workloads is also important for breaking down perceptions that family-friendly arrangements are special treatment or favours for certain staff. A broader awareness raising campaign is also needed along with cultural change in the home to support this attitudinal change, as discussed in Chapter 5.

The problems with implementing family-friendly arrangements point to the need for further work on implementation strategies within workplaces, as well as information and practical support for managers to be able to find workable solutions for their staff.

RECOMMENDATION 16:

That HREOC develop Employer and Employee Guidelines in relation to workers with family and carer responsibilities, setting out rights and responsibilities, including a specific focus on small business.

The UK experience of introducing "right to request" arrangements in 2003 provides an example of the importance of supporting such new legislation with an extensive media campaign targeting both men and women, which encourages employees to take-up the new opportunities and employers to support the scheme.

A survey carried out for the UK Government 12 months into the operation of the new legislation found that although substantial advertising meant awareness of the changes was high among both employers and employees, there was an ongoing need for more awareness-raising and training for both parents and employers. Fathers, in particular, needed help and support in pursuing their rights under the legislation and some employers needed a clearer understanding of compliance with the legislation and the business reasons for refusal of requests. The survey also found that there should be more training for managers in how to manage requests and flexible workers.111

RECOMMENDATION 17:

That HREOC, in consultation with the Office of Workplace Services, be funded to develop comprehensive new resources and a major public awareness campaign focused on employers' and employees' rights and responsibilities under the new Family Responsibilities and Carers' Rights Act.

Greater leadership and better recognition of the business case for family-friendly workplaces

There is also a need for greater industry level leadership to help facilitate change, particularly in male-dominated fields with a poor record of responding to the needs of workers with family and carer responsibilities. This could be done through education and assistance to translate business case arguments for family-friendly provisions into practice.112

Promotion of the evidence base would help encourage better recognition of business case arguments and would add to existing promotional activities that highlight best practice employers.113 For example, there is international research and some local research that demonstrates the links between productivity and good paid work and family balance.114 Translating the business case arguments for adopting family-friendly provisions into measurable bottom-line outcomes is an important task, especially as a way of making managers more accountable for implementing family-friendly arrangements for their staff. Organisations in turn need to provide managers with "the education, the staff, and the authority to support employees to balance their work and family needs and to be recognised and applauded as 'good'".115

RECOMMENDATION 18:

That the ACCI/BCA National Work and Family Awards include new categories on father-friendly policies and carer-friendly workplaces in order to showcase best practices in the workplace for supporting working fathers and working carers.

Encouraging attitudinal change at the workplace level

Cultural barriers to good paid work and family balance identified by employees include what is commonly referred to as "presenteeism", meaning an organisational culture in which employees feel they need to be in the office for long hours to prove their worth and/or deliver outcomes. For some workplaces this results in a costly high turnover in staff: It seems people accept it and do extra hours, but they don't really accept it as they leave".116 Other employers urged a recognition that extra hours don't necessarily mean more productive hours.117 Ideas for combating presenteeism included "go home on time" days or broader wellbeing policies that workplaces have introduced such as in one workplace where employees are encouraged to take proper lunch breaks by not being allowed to eat lunch at their desks while working.118

Cultural factors play a large part in making family-friendly workplace provisions accessible to both women and men. Cultural barriers prevent many men from seeking accommodation of their family/carer responsibilities despite their desire and often need to care for their families. A submission from the Queensland Government pointed out:

Many working fathers are reluctant to play a greater role in family life due to the influence of workplace culture... The prominent values and attitudes at the workplace affect virtually every aspect of employer-sponsored work-family initiatives ...119

Stereotypes about fathers and parenting can play a strong role in the culture of workplaces, as an example cited by the ACT Human Rights Office showed:

... one family arranged for the mother to take 12 months unpaid maternity leave after the birth of their first child. The father, an electrician, planned to take a year off work to stay at home and raise their child when his wife returned to work after her maternity leave. Unfortunately, the father faced strong criticism and ridicule from his work colleagues, who did not view this as 'the thing for a man to do'.120

Factors associated with the workplace present major barriers to fathers' involvement in caring for their children.121 With less support to take parental leave and other family-friendly policies there is a greater likelihood that fathers will not be physically and closely involved in parenting their children from an early age. This is a crucial time for facilitating men's engagement with child rearing, with a body of international research suggesting that paid parental leave leads to increased father involvement with children and positive outcomes for child health.122 Fathers taking ninety days of parental leave or more are more likely to increase their ongoing share of child care responsibility and emotional involvement with their children.123 Constraints on men's capacity to be involved in parenting help perpetuate the imbalance between paid and unpaid work among men and women and thereby limit men's and women's choices, as argued in Chapter 2.124

Without supportive attitudes within the workplace culture, family-friendly policies that are theoretically available to both women and men will continue to be taken up mostly by women. Such attitudes perpetuate the "mummy track" and "daddy track" phenomena, whereby employees who take up family-friendly options are perceived as not as serious about their jobs and are shunted into lower status roles or overlooked for promotions or other forms of career development.125

Implementing family-friendly policies and practices in workplaces requires skills (such as problem solving, communication, work design, decision making and project management) as well as supportive values. Evidence suggests that good management is a key element of achieving family-friendly workplaces.126 Despite the value of such family-friendly initiatives, many managers do not have the time or skills to make these work for their organisation and as a result feel penalised and burdened by requests to do so. This point was raised with HREOC during consultations and in submissions as a key barrier to family-friendly workplace cultures.127

These findings highlight the need for better translation of business case arguments for family-friendly work arrangements. As noted above, education and practical assistance would assist businesses to measure the bottom line impacts of family-friendly policies, and this would in turn provide a platform for their implementation.128 This would also be a way of shifting the focus on the business case at a broad level to a more persuasive approach based on individual business needs.129

RECOMMENDATION 19:

That an interdepartmental committee (including FaCSIA, DEWR and HREOC) should be established to examine initiatives to assist in improving the family-friendly culture within workplaces, including ideas such as:

  • developing more broadly recognised resources for employers focusing on the business case benefits of implementing family-friendly work practices;
  • developing training packages about the benefits of family-friendly work practices for middle and senior management; and
  • Developing community awareness programs focused on limiting working hours and discouraging presenteeism through workplace campaigns such as a "daddy go home on time" day.

Stronger incentives for men to use family-friendly policies

Some employer representatives questioned whether there was any point in providing greater family-friendly provisions for men given their low take-up of family-friendly policies such as paternity leave.130 This point is confirmed by research which shows few workers, especially men and women on low incomes, take up their existing statutory right to 52 weeks of unpaid parental leave.131 However the low up take by men can be explained by a number of barriers, including the attitudes within the workplace as mentioned above and the fact that it is unpaid leave.132 A policy specifically designed for men with a low or negligible impact on pay and career may be a more appropriate way of assisting male employees with family/carer responsibilities. A submission from the Premiers Council for Women (SA) argued that:

Strategies are also needed to assist men who feel they cannot take on carer duties because they will be looked down upon by colleagues, not seen as "manly", or not seen as dedicated to their career by their employer.133

A "daddy go home on time" day has also been suggested as a way of addressing cultural barriers in the workplace.134

A case was made for further work on tailoring specific policies and provisions for men, drawing on Scandinavian models where there is a type of paid parental leave that can only be taken by men on a use it or lose it" basis, known as the daddy month".135 In Sweden paid parental leave is mandated for both fathers and mothers, with two months reserved exclusively for each parent with the remaining ten months taken by either parent. It is not possible to transfer reserved months between either parent.136 Swedish fathers' use of parental leave has increased steadily since the introduction of paid parental leave in 1974, with over 77 per cent of fathers with a child born in 1996 taking parental leave during their child's first four years.137

Better incentives are required to increase men's use of family-friendly policies. Increased use of family-friendly policies by men would not only assist individual men to meet their family/carer responsibilities, it would also help break down the perception that these policies are only for women. A more even take up of family-friendly policies would contribute toward a better sharing of care and other unpaid work in the home. This strategy would not, however, work in isolation from a raft of other strategies for redistributing unpaid work between women and men, as discussed throughout this paper.

4.9 A life cycle approach to work and a universal approach to family-friendly flexibility

While many submissions and consultation participants concentrated on individual men's and women's roles in caring for children, a number pointed to the need for a comprehensive national approach to paid work and family/carer responsibilities in terms of current labour shortages in some industries and projected shortages as a result of the ageing of the population. The need to consider Australia's ageing population and the specific needs and preferences of older workers was raised as an important issue given the large numbers of older workers who have caring responsibilities.

Submissions noted that the ageing of the population presents particular challenges for women who are part of the sandwich generation" of those caring for both children and others such as ageing parents and spouses. Women who are sandwiched between various caring responsibilities find it difficult to access or continue with paid work, which is often restricted to part time and occasional employment that fits around care responsibilities.138 This results not only in financial pressure and lower retirement income for individuals but contributes to the pool of underutilised labour.

This approach is inclusive of the needs of an ageing workforce who may or may not have care responsibilities as well as the needs of people with disability as workers and carers. HREOC's National Inquiry into Employment and Disability recommended that efforts toward flexibility in workplaces to meet the needs of employees with disability be coordinated with efforts to create family-friendly workplaces.139 The report notes that the kinds of flexibilities that might be needed by employees with disability are not substantially different to the needs that other employees with caring responsibilities need.140 A universal response to workplace accommodation of flexible, family-friendly policies may also help combat attitudes in the workplace that mitigate against employees taking up existing family-friendly provisions and discourage the perception of the needs of people with disability as being too difficult to accommodate.

It is important, however, that this inclusive approach retains a focus on gender equality, given that women are currently much more likely to be responsible for caring for children, elder care and caring for people with disability.141 There also appear to be differences in the amount of caring work that women with disability undertake as compared to men with disability, with women taking on a greater share of unpaid work in line with expectations that they do so.142 Women with disability undertaking both paid and unpaid work are likely to spend more time and energy on unpaid work and increase their risk of ill health than women without disability.143

This mix of targeted strategies within a universal framework of workplace flexibility represents a response to paid work and family which encompasses changes across the life course. A life cycle perspective is necessary particularly considering the prospect of longer working lives and varying demands for care throughout those lives. The reality for many workers is that participation in paid work is more fluid than the traditional trajectory of the breadwinner unencumbered by caring responsibilities. Workplace responses to the needs of workers have to address the reality of modern working life as one which will increasingly resemble the traditional pattern of women's working lives as the population ages, that is, as one of movement in and out of caring roles in accordance with changing family and carer responsibilities. As paid work and family needs change over the life course workplaces will need to be sufficiently flexible in accommodating these needs.

4.10 Community concern about WorkChoices and its impact on paid work and family/carer responsibilities

Significant changes to the Workplace Relations Act 1996, known as "WorkChoices", were introduced, debated and came into operation during the writing of this report, which understandably meant that issues and concerns around the changes were raised in many submissions and consultations.

Many consultations and submissions expressed apprehension about the effects of the WorkChoices legislation, a number specifically raising concerns that the widespread changes to industrial relations would undermine the already precarious ability of many employees to combine paid work and family/carer responsibilities.144

Evidence for these concerns was given in relation to four main areas:

  • the prospect of loss of control over working hours and its effect on the ability of employees to balance paid work and family/carer responsibilities;
  • the prospect that minimum wages will be reduced over time because of the changes to wage setting;
  • lack of protection and possible harassment and discrimination resulting from the removal of unfair dismissal laws for businesses with up to 100 employees; and
  • the reduced role of unions to bargain for family-friendly provisions or the right to have those provisions regulated through awards and collective agreements.145

Unions were particularly concerned about the effects of the reforms on employees with little workplace bargaining power to individually negotiate suitable paid work and family arrangements, while business groups welcomed the changes as opportunities for more diverse needs and circumstances to be met in line with the varying capacities of Australian employers.146

There were widespread concerns among various groups about the legislation's implications for women, specifically the prospect of increasing gender pay inequity over time and its impact on the choices women and men can make for balancing paid work and care.147

For example, a participant in a community consultation told us:

My biggest concern is the changes to the IR structure ... it is precisely those protections that offer balance between work and family that will be lost ... 148

A submission from Business and Professional Women told us:

The proposed changes to industrial relations and workplace conditions will [a]ffect families. Small and large businesses alike should have support from the government to implement flexible work practices but ensure that employees should be able to be productive and achieve a family work life balance. A flexible workplace, without other programs which address the pay gap for women and the different life experiences of women will not necessarily achieve balance and equity. While supporting greater flexibility in work practices, it is important to note that... there are indications that the current government's industrial relations reform will impact women and those i[n] part time work to a greater degree. In reviewing work-life balance, there needs to be a holistic assessment of work place relations and social policy.149

These concerns are reflected in recent research about women's employment carried out for HREOC by researchers based at Curtin University of Technology's School of Business which has identified a range of concerns in relation to the new regulatory framework which will require monitoring to ensure that the legislation is not gender biased in its impact.150 In relation to the gender wage gap, particularly for women in low waged occupations and industries, these concerns include the impact of increasing individual agreement making on women's wages and conditions, the impact on women's (and men's) patterns of working hours which assist in the management of family/carer responsibilities, access to family-friendly working arrangements and paid and unpaid leave entitlements and access to penalty rates and loadings. The researchers further note that the monitoring of these impacts should specifically include the impacts on women with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

There was also concern about the effects of the reforms on opportunities for men to be involved in parenting, particularly a perceived threat to recently won gains for men in the area of paid paternity leave.

The whole push of the new IR regime will be to remove any chance of promoting a better balance of parenting between the genders. The only benefits that are likely to remain will be for women (as mothers) in some industries and thus the only workable solution (from a financial basis) for most families will be for traditional sex stereotyped roles - whether this suits the family or not ... This would be a backwards step for men and women and demonstrate[s] a lack of commitment to balanced and flexible working arrangements which give an equal opportunity and support for either gender to take on family commitments.151

HREOC has commented previously on the WorkChoices legislation in its Submission to the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Legislation Committee's Inquiry into the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Bill 2005.152 HREOC's concerns about WorkChoices centred around its potential impacts on:

  • the protection of workers with family and carer responsibilities;
  • pay equity between men and women; and
  • the protection of employees in vulnerable and lower skilled positions in the Australian labour market.

Some other aspects of HREOC's comments are discussed in section 4.6.

At this stage, it is not possible to measure the full impacts of the new legislation and it remains to be seen whether this legislation will sufficiently protect vulnerable groups of employees (such as workers with family and carer responsibilities) and prevent the gap widening between men's and women's wages.   

However, there is clearly significant concern in the community about WorkChoices and in particular the impact of long, irregular and extended working hours on family life. This is particularly a result of the increased focus on individual employer/employee bargaining via Australian Workplace Agreements, which often increase ordinary working hours and allow averaging of wages over extended periods. There is also concern that workers with family/carer responsibilities, largely women, will find themselves trading off wages for family-friendly employment conditions in an individual bargaining environment. This again highlights the importance of continued monitoring of women's wages and employment conditions (see Recommendation 11).

RECOMMENDATION 20:

That HREOC, in consultation with the Office of the Employment Advocate, develop community resources to assist women with workplace negotiation and individual bargaining.

4.11 Conclusion

Structural aspects of labour market inequality, such as poor quality part time work, pay inequality, and discrimination against workers who take up family-friendly policies interact to produce unfair outcomes for both women and men who need to combine paid work with care. Men working long hours miss out on family life and are unable to contribute fairly to caring work while women who cannot get enough hours of work or reasonable conditions at work miss out on the economic and social benefits of paid work.

With unequal pay and a highly gender segregated workforce many couple families cannot make a genuine choice to share care in ways that differ from the default option of full time male breadwinner and part time or full time female primary carer. Genuine family-friendly policies and workplace flexibilities that do not enforce gendered stereotypes of caring or unfairly disadvantage those who use them are needed. Workers with caring responsibilities for older people and people with disability require equal access to family-friendly policies that already exist in some workplaces. In addition, cultural barriers in the workplace also work against the implementation of existing family-friendly policies.

A choice to be either a full time worker or a full time carer with poor access to quality flexible working conditions is too limited a choice and is not sustainable for individuals, their families or for a nation that needs higher workforce participation and skilled workers both now and into the future. However, sharing care in a family by two partners working part time or carers working flexibly as caring responsibilities change over the life course is a real possibility when the career and financial penalties for doing so are lessened.

The series of measures as recommended above and a comprehensive re-think of paid work and family arrangements in the workplace are necessary to institute a shared work - valued care approach that incorporates all types of caring across the life cycle.


Footnotes

[1] See Joan Williams Unbending Gender: Why work and family conflict and what to do about it Oxford University Press New York, 2000 for a discussion of the "ideal worker" norm, particularly pp 1-6.

[2] See for example Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Submission 122, p 6 and Australian Industry Group, Submission 162, p 5.

[3] Sara Charlesworth, Submission 98; Community and Public Sector Union, Submission 90; and NSW Equal Employment Practitioners' Association, Submission 44, p 8.

[4] Marty Grace, Mary Leahy and James Doughney, Submission 114, p 3.

[5] Sara Charlesworth, Submission 98, p 5.

[6] Marty Grace, Mary Leahy and James Doughney, Submission 114, p 2.

[7] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 21-22 for information about long hours of paid work and the related issue of work intensification. Data from the first wave (2004) of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children shows that the average usual working hours of employed partnered fathers with an infant is 46 hours per week (data provided to HREOC by the Australian Institute of Family Studies).

[8] Community and Public Sector Union, Submission 90, p 13. This response also points to other relevant factors such as the cost of child care, which is discussed in Chapter 7.

[9] Shop Distributive & Allied Employees Association, Submission 71, p 3.

[10] Cited in Barbara Hobson, Ann-Zofie Duvander and Karin Hallden "Men and Women's Agency and Capabilities to Create a Work Life Balance" Paper presented at Gender and Social Policy: International Perspectives University of Sydney/University of New South Wales University of Sydney Sydney 24 February 2006.

[11] Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, Submission 161, pp 6-7.

[12] Employer Consultation, Brisbane, 27 September 2006; HREOC Focus group 9, July 2005.

[13] HREOC Focus group 9, July 2005.

[14] See discussion in section 4.8.

[15] The role of workplace culture is explored further in section 4.8.

[16] See Barbara Pocock "Australian Mothers in 2004: Awaiting a decent work/care regime" in Patricia Grimshaw, John Murphy and Belinda Probert (eds) Double Shift: Working mothers and social change in Australia Circa Beaconsfield, 2005, pp 8-23 at p 11 for elaboration on these points. See also discussion of this point throughout Barbara Pocock's The Work/Life Collision The Federation Press Sydney 2003.

[17]Colette Fagan, Ariane Hegewisch and Jane Pillinger Out of time: Why Britain needs a new approach to working-time flexibility Trades Union Congress 2006. See 3.4, 4.7 and 4.8 for further discussion of the "right to request" flexible work.

[18] See "Overview of WorkChoices legislation" above for information about the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard.

[19] Carers Australia, Submission 60.

[20] Carers are more likely to be working part time than full time. See Access Economics The Economic Value of Informal Care report for Carers Australia August 2005, p 12 which finds that the age-standardised rate of part-time employment for primary carers is 28.8 per cent and for non-primary carers is 21.1 per cent compared to a rate of 17.2 per cent for the general population.

[21]Carers Australia, Submission 60; Union Consultation, Canberra, 5 September 2005; Community and Public Sector Union, Submission 90, p 4 and p 9.

[22] Carers Australia, Submission 60.

[23] See Striking the Balance discussion paper pp 72-74 for a discussion of workforce participation in an ageing society. See also Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Live Longer, Work Longer Ageing and Employment Policies OECD Publishing, 2006.

[24] Working Carers Support Gateway, Submission 77. See also section 4.7, below.

[25] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission WORKability II: Solutions People with disability in the open workplace Final report of the National Inquiry into Employment and Disability HREOC Sydney December 2005, p 13.

[26] Disability Council of NSW, Submission 76, p 2, citing Women with Disabilities Australia submission to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Inquiry into Employment and Disability.

[27] Disability Council of NSW, Submission 76, p 3. This issue is also discussed in Chapter 6, sections 6.4 and 6.5.

[28] Community consultation, Parramatta, 7 September 2005 and Community consultation, Adelaide, 11 July 2005.

[29]Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Babies and Bosses: Reconciling work and family life - Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands Volume 1 OECD Paris 2002, p 10. See also Chapter 8. HREOC also uses the term "family-friendly" in a broad sense to encompass the full range of family and carer responsibilities as discussed throughout this paper.

[30] Union consultation, Melbourne, 14 July 2005; Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005.

[31] According to the first detailed survey by the ABS on the employment circumstances of women who had a child under two years of age, Pregnancy and Employment Transitions, paid maternity leave was used by 34 per cent of employed mothers-to-be. Professional women were more likely to take paid leave for the birth of their child than women in other occupations: 56 per cent of professional mothers-to-be took paid maternity leave while only 8 per cent of elementary clerical, sales and service workers took paid maternity leave. Use of any type of leave for the birth of the child was more prevalent within the public sector than in the private sector with 86 per cent of mothers-to-be in the public sector taking leave compared to 71 per cent in the private sector. 76 per cent of women in the public sector took paid maternity leave while only 25 per cent of women employed in the private sector took such leave. Fifty-six per cent of women in large firms (employing 100 people or more) took paid maternity leave for the birth compared to only 15 per cent of women in firms employing less than 10 people. Of women whose partners remained their partners during their pregnancy, some form of paid leave was used by 70 per cent of partners, however only 25 per cent used paid paternity or parental leave: ABS Pregnancy and Employment Transitions, Australia Cat No 4913.0 November 2005. The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency's survey of reporting organisations (100 employees or more) found that the provision of paid leave has doubled in the last four years: 46 per cent provide paid maternity leave (an increase from 23 per cent in 2001), while 32 per cent provide paid paternity leave (an increase from 15 per cent in 2001) (Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Survey 2005: Paid parental leave Australian Government February 2006).

[32] Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Submission 33, Attachment 1; Job Watch Inc, Submission 38, p 12; and Union consultation, Darwin, 23 September 2005.

[33] See for example Michael Thompson, Louise Vinter and Viv Young Dads and Their Babies: Leave arrangements in the first year EOC Working Paper No 37 Equal Opportunities Commission UK 2005; John Ekberg, Rickard Eriksson and Guido Friebel Sharing Responsibility? Short and long-term effects of Sweden's "Daddy-Month" reform Swedish Institute for Social Research Working paper No 3Swedish Institute for Social Research Stockholm 2004; Berit Brandth and Elim Kvande "Reflexive Fathers: Negotiating parental leave and working life gender" Gender, Work and Organization 9 No 2 2002 pp 186-203; and Thorgerdur Einarsde ttir and Gyda Margrét Pétursdóttir "Iceland Country Notes on Parental Leave Policy and Research" in Peter Moss and Margaret O'Brien International Review of Leave Policies and Related Research 2006 DTI Employment Relations Research Series No 57 UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 2006, pp 144-150.

[34] ibid.

[35] Peter Moss and Margaret O'Brien International Review of Leave Policies and Related Research 2006 DTI Employment Relations Research Series No 57 UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 2006, p 157.

[36] Linda Haas and C Philip Hwang "The Impact of Taking Parental Leave on Fathers' Participation in Childcare and Ties with Children: Lessons from Sweden" paper presented to the First International Conference on Community, Work and Family Manchester UK 16-18 March 2005.

[37] HREOC Focus group 9, July 2005 and Industrial Relations Victoria, Submission 160, p 22-23.

[38] ABS Australian Labour Market Statistics Cat No 6105.0 January 2007, p 38.

[39] Lixia Qu and Ruth Weston "A Woman's Place? Work hour preferences revisited" Family Matters No 72 Australian Institute of Family Studies Summer 2005, p 72.

[40] ibid, p 74.

[41] ABS Underemployed Workers, Australia Cat No 6265.0 September 2005, p 8.

[42] Employer consultation, Melbourne, 12 July 2005.

[43] Confidential, Submission 11.

[44] Jenny Chalmers and Trish Hill, Submission 99; Work + Family Policy Roundtable, Submission 102, p 7; and Diversity Council Australia Limited, Submission 121.

[45] Ciara Smyth, Margot Rawsthorne and Peter Siminski Women's Lifework: Labour market transition experiences of women Final report prepared for the Commonwealth, State, Territories & New Zealand Ministers' Conference on the Status of Women (MINCO) SPRC Report 7/06 Social Policy Research Centre University of New South Wales Sydney 2006, p iv.

[46] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, Chapter 3.

[47] Jenny Chalmers and Trish Hill, Submission 99; Industrial Relations Victoria, Submission 160, pp 49-52.

[48] Industrial Relations Victoria, Submission 160, p 38.

[49] Jenny Chalmers and Trish Hill, Submission 99.

[50] For example, that described in HREOC Focus group 9, July 2005. See also the experience described in Confidential, Submission 36, p 1, cited below.

[51] Confidential, Submission 36, p 1.

[52] See Sara Charlesworth, Submission 98, p 7 and Industrial Relations Victoria, Submission 160, p 51.

[53] See discussion below in section 4.8.

[54] Industrial Relations Victoria Quality Part-Time Work: Working better for everyone Final report of the Quality Part-Time Work Project State of Victoria Melbourne, October 2005. The project's industry guidelines are available at: http://www.business.vic.gov.au/BUSVIC.2097476/STANDARD//PC_60956.html.

[55] See Chapter 3, section 3.4 and section 4.7 and 4.8 below.

[56] Alison Preston, Therese Jefferson and Richard Seymour for WiSER - Women in Social & Economic Research Women's Pay and Conditions in an Era of Changing Workplace Regulations: Towards a "Women's Employment Status Key Indicators" (WESKI) database Curtin University of Technology September 2006, pp 13-14.

[57] See, for example, the Australian Government's initiatives as described in Transcript of The Prime Minister the Hon John Howard MP Address to the Australian Financial Review - Skilling Australia Conference Sydney 18 September 2006 http://www.pm.gov.au/media/speech/2006/speech2142.cfm

[58] See, for example, Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research, Monash University, Submission 46, p 4; Country Women's Association of NSW, Submission 73; Government of Western Australia, Submission 126, p 4; YWCA Australia, Submission 93; Australian Education Union, Submission 119, p 13.

[59] Government of Western Australia, Submission 126, p 4.

[60] Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research Monash University, Submission 46, p 4.

[61] See Janet Albrechtson cited in Sara Charlesworth, Submission 98, p 4. See also Bettina Arndt "Why men are paid more" Herald Sun 16 October 2006, p 18 for an example of this claim.

[62] See discussion of the "ideal worker" myth in sections 4.1 and 4.4

[63] Marty Grace, Mary Leahy and James Doughney, Submission 114, p 5.

[64] See sources cited in footnote 58. This barrier was also raised with HREOC by men and women in focus groups and consultations, for example, Community consultation, Sydney, 26 October 2005.

[65] YWCA Australia, Submission 93.

[66] Based on full time ordinary time earnings in August 2006. If both full and part time work is included, women only earn 65.6 per cent of what men earn (ABS Average Weekly Earnings, Australia Cat No 6302.0 August 2006).

[67] OECD OECD Employment Outlook Paris 2002, p 95. Belgium leads the way in pay equity with a six per cent wage gap, followed by Australia. The average wage gap for OECD countries was 16 per cent: pp 95-97.

[68] Victorian Pay Equity Working Party to the Minister for Industrial Relations Advancing Pay Equity Government of Victoria 2005.

[69] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Submission to the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Legislation Committee's Inquiry into the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Bill 2005 Sydney November 2005 pp 3-4.

[70] For the full list of pay equity recommendations made by HREOC see Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Submission to the Australian Fair Pay Commission for Consideration in Determining the First National Wage Decision Sydney July 2006, p 30.

[71] See Job Watch Inc, Submission 38, pp 12-13; Queensland Government Submission 166, p 9; Australian Women's Coalition Inc, Submission 129, p 10; Women's Electoral Lobby Australia, Submission 115, p 15; Premier's Council for Women (SA), Submission 96, p 16; Sara Charlesworth, Submission 98, p 11; Work + Family Policy Roundtable, Submission 102, p 8; Bronwen Burfitt, Submission 107, pp 20-21; Business and Professional Women Australia, Submission 109; Australian Education Union, Submission 119, p 39; Government of Western Australia, Submission 126, p 8; Independent Education Union of Australia, Submission 159, p 12; Australian Industry Group, Submission 162, p 7; Anonymous, Submission 168; Peter S Cook, Submission 169, p 4; YWCA Australia, Submission 93; and Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research Monash University, Submission 46, p 6. HREOC's paid maternity leave proposal can be found in Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission A Time to Value: Proposal for a national paid maternity leave scheme HREOC Sydney, 2002.

[72] Australia has been the subject of criticism about this situation from a number of sources including the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW 34th Session Concluding comments of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Australia 16 January - 3 February 2006, p 4).

[73] See Part C: Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Valuing Parenthood: Options for paid maternity leave Interim Paper 2002 HREOC Sydney 2002.

[74] Work + Family Policy Roundtable, Submission 102, p 8.

[75] Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research Monash University, Submission 46, p 6; Police Federation of Australia, Submission 67, p 9.

[76] Police Federation of Australia, Submission 67, p 9.

[77] See for example Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Office, Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission, Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, Equal Opportunity Commission Western Australia, and Equal Opportunity Commission of South Australia, Submission 117, p 17; Job Watch Inc, Submission 38, p 13; and YWCA Australia, Submission 93.

[78] Job Watch Inc, Submission 38, p 13.

[79] YWCA Australia, Submission 93.

[80] Mark Dossetor, Submission 155, p 2.

[81] See Gillian Whitehouse, Marian Baird, Chris Diamond and Amanda Hosking The Parental Leave in Australia Survey: November 2006 report December 2006 http://www.uq.edu.au/polsis/parental-leave/level1-report.pdf and also Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Survey 2005: Paid parental leave Australian Government February 2006.

[82] Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Survey 2005: Paid paternity leave Australian Government May 2006.

[83] See discussion in Chapter 4 of Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission A Time to Value: Proposal for a national paid maternity leave scheme HREOC 2002, pp 139-152.

[84] Paid paternity leave should be available to the non-birth parent in same-sex families and be available to adoptive parents.

[85] NSW Commission for Children and Young People, Submission 175, pp 4-5.

[86] NSW Equal Employment Opportunity Practitioners' Association, Submission 44, p 7.

[87] Third Year Honours Students, Work and Organisational Studies School of Business University of Sydney, Submission 128, p 52.

[88] Anna Chapman, Submission 83. This submission argued that legal rules contained in the federal Workplace Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act "assume families and caring structures that marginalize both Indigenous values and the practices of child rearing in queer communities" and that families that differ from the normative standard are excluded from family-friendly workplace entitlements as a result. The submission is also published as: Anna Chapman "Challenging the Constitution of the (White and Straight) Family in Work and Family Scholarship" (2005) 23 Law in Context 1, pp 65-87.

[89] HREOC Focus group 9, July 2005; Community consultation, Canberra, 18 August 2005; and Andrea Hardwick, Submission 54.

[90] Working Carers Support Gateway, Submission 77; Carers Australia, Submission 60; Community consultation, Adelaide, 11 July 2005; and Community consultation, Parramatta, 7 September 2005. See also discussion in Chapter 4 in section 4.5.

[91] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 72-74.

[92] See Chapter 8, section 8.3.

[93] See further discussion Chapter 8, section 8.3.

[94] National Diversity Think Tank/Diversity Council Australia Work and Caring Second Round Table ANZ Banking Group Sydney 21 November 2006. This Round Table featured presentations from a range of big businesses on the extensive family-friendly policies they offer, including elder care leave policies.

[95] See also discussion in section 4.5.

[96] Natalie Smith, Submission 43; Australian Capital Territory Human Rights Office, Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission, Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland, Equal Opportunity Commission Western Australia, and Equal Opportunity Commission of South Australia, Submission 117, p 19.

[97] Michael Bittman, Sonia Hoffman and Denise Thompson Fathers' Uptake of Family Friendly Employment Provisions Final report prepared for the Department of Family and Community Services Canberra April 2003, pp 42-46. This point is discussed again later in this section.

[98] People with Disability Australia, Submission 104, p 8.

[99] Community consultation, Sydney, 9 November 2005 and HREOC Focus group 9, July 2005.

[100] Michael Alexander and Jennifer Baxter "Impacts of Work on Family Life Among Partnered Parents of Young Children" Family Matters No 72 Summer 2005, pp 18-25 at p 20.

[101] HREOC Focus group 9, Melbourne, July 2005; Employer consultation, Melbourne, 12 July 2005; and Women Lawyers Association of NSW, Submission 112, p 20.

[102] Women Lawyers Association of NSW, Submission 112, p 20. This was also reported to be the case in the community sector, where part time roles frequently mean doing a full time workload due to inadequate resourcing: Community consultation, Melbourne, 13 July 2005.

[103] Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers Australia, Submission 108, p 9; Industrial Relations Victoria, Submission 160, p 29.

[104] Queensland Government, Submission 166, p 77.

[105] The Independent Education Union of Australia describes these views as examples of company cultures that work against the implementation of family-friendly arrangements (Submission 159, p 11).

[106] NSW Equal Employment Opportunity Practitioners' Association, Submission 44, pp 10-11; Community and Public Sector Union, Submission 90, p 5.

[107] NSW Equal Employment Opportunity Practitioners' Association, Submission 44, pp 9-10.

[108] HREOC Focus group 9, July 2005.

[109] Women's Electoral Lobby Australia, Submission 115, p 11.

[110] Community and Public Sector Union, Submission 90, p 3.

[111] Christine Campon on behalf of Working Families Right to Request Flexible Working Review of impact in first year of legislation Report for the UK Department of Trade and Industry London, March 2004.

[112] For a summary of the business case arguments for family-friendly policies see the discussion in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 98-100.

[113] Examples of current work in this area include the annual Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI)/Business Council of Australia (BCA) National Work and Family Awards and a range of activities and research undertaken by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).

[114] See Nick Bloom, Toby Kretschmer and John Van Reenen Work Life Balance, Management Practices and Productivity Anglo-German Foundation, Economic and Social Research Council and Advanced Institute of Management Research January 2006, which demonstrates the link between good management practices (which improve work/life balance) and productivity. This study finds that work/life balance policies in themselves have a neutral effect on average in terms of productivity. In Australia, a recent survey of 400 organisations found that 58 per cent of respondents reported that their initiatives were having a positive impact on productivity, along with positive effects on retention and lower staff turnover: Managing Work/Life Balance Work/Life Initiatives - The way ahead report on the year 2006 survey Managing Work Life Balance International Roseville 2006, p 10. See also discussion of business case research in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 98-100 and evidence presented in House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Human Services Balancing Work and Family Report of the inquiry into balancing work and family Commonwealth of Australia Canberra December 2006, pp 166-167.

[115] Community and Public Sector Union, Submission 90, p 5.

[116] HREOC Focus group 9 (middle manager), July 2005.

[117] Employer consultation, Brisbane, 27 September 2005.

[118] HREOC Advisory Panel Meeting, Sydney, 16 December 2004; Employer consultation, Perth, 13 September 2005; Families Australia, Submission 50, p 7.

[119] Queensland Government, Submission 166, pp 77-78.

[120] ACT Human Rights Office, Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission; Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland; Equal Opportunity Commission Western Australia; Equal Opportunity Commission of South Australia, Submission 117, p 19.

[121] Adrienne Burgess and Graeme Russell "Fatherhood and Public Policy" in Supporting Fathers: Contributions from the International Fatherhood Summit 2003 Early Childhood Development: Practice and Reflections Series Bernard van Leer Foundation The Hague 2004, p 117.

[122] See, for example, reviews of this research by Margaret O'Brien Parental Leave Policies for Mothers and Fathers: Children's perspectives and well-being" and Sheila B Kamerman "Parental Leave Policies: The impact on child well-being" in Peter Moss and Margaret O'Brien (eds) International Review of Leave Policies and Related Research Employment Relations Research Series No 37 Department of Trade and Industry (UK) London, 2006, pp 16-21 and pp 22-30.

[123] Linda Haas and C Philip Hwang "The Impact of Taking Parental Leave on Fathers' Participation in Childcare and Ties with Children: Lessons from Sweden" paper presented to the First International Conference on Community, Work and Family Manchester UK 16-18 March 2005.

[124] See Chapter 2, section 2.3.

[125] Women's Electoral Lobby Australia, Submission 115, p 4; ACT Human Rights Office, Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission; Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland; Equal Opportunity Commission Western Australia; Equal Opportunity Commission of South Australia, Submission 117, p 15.

[126] Nick Bloom, Tobias Kretschmer, John Van Reenen Work-Life Balance, Management Practices and Productivity January 2006 Paper No CEPSP16 Centre for Economic Performance London, especially p 25. See also discussion in section 4.5, above.

[127] Employer consultation, Hobart, 10 August 2005; Employer consultation, Melbourne, 12 July 2005; Employer consultation, Perth, 13 September 2005; Employer consultation, Adelaide, 12 July 2005; NSW Equal Employment Practitioners' Association, Submission 44, p 9; Community and Public Sector Union, Submission 90, p 5.

[128] See also the discussion of the business case for family-friendly and flexible work arrangements in the Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 89-100.

[129] See Graeme Russell and Linda Haas Organisational Challenges in Integrating Work and Caring White paper National Diversity Think Tank and Diversity Council Australia, 2006 for a discussion of an approach based on business need.

[130] HREOC Advisory Panel Meeting, Sydney, 9 November 2004.

[131] Marian Baird and Adam Seth Litwin "Rethinking Work and Family Policy: The making and taking of parental leave" in Australia International Review of Psychiatry 17 5 October 2005, pp 385-400.

[132] These barriers were also mentioned in submissions and consultations. See, for example, Sara Charlesworth, Submission 98, especially Attachment 1, p 21; Mark Dossetor, Submission 155; and Premiers Council for Women (SA), Submission 96, p 29. See also discussion of paid leave entitlements above, in section 4.7.

[133] Premiers Council for Women (SA), Submission 96, p 29.

[134] Families Australia, Submission 50, p 7. Families Australia also refers to an initiative of the Australia Institute that advocated a National Go Home on Time Day". See also discussion in Chapter 5, section 5.8 and Recommendation 19, above.

[135] For an introduction to and discussion of these models see OECD Babies and Bosses: Reconciling Work and Family Life - Canada, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom Volumel 4 OECD Paris 2005. The Swedish daddy month" is summarised on p 239. See also Queensland Government Submission 166, p 79 and also discussion in sections 4.6 and 4.7 and Recommendation 14, above.

[136] Adrienne Burgess and Graeme Russell Fatherhood and Public Policy" in Supporting Fathers: Contributions from the International Fatherhood Summit 2003 Early Childhood Development: Practice and Reflections Series Bernard van Leer Foundation The Hague 2004, p 118.

[137] Linda Haas and C Philip Hwang "The Impact of Taking Parental Leave on Fathers' Participation in Childcare and Ties with Children: Lessons from Sweden" paper presented to the First International Conference on Community, Work and Family Manchester UK 16-18 March 2005, p 2. It should be noted that these policies are also backed by extensive government funded promotion and a history of commitment to gender equality.

[138] Amanda Cooklin, Hannah Fagenblat, Susan Feldman, Jason Rubens and Geulah Solomon Superwomen: Jewish sandwich women balancing intergenerational family responsibilities in multicultural Australia NCJW Monograph Report to OSW Melbourne 2003 cited in National Council of Jewish Women of Australia, Submission 45, p 3; Australian Women's Coalition, Submission 129, Attachment 1, p 9. See also Premier's Council for Women (SA), Submission 96, p 4. See also Striking the Balance discussion paper, pp 41-45.

[139] Recommendation 19, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission WORKability II: Solutions People with Disability in the Open Workplace, Final Report of the National Enquiry into Employment and Disability, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, December 2005, p 130.

[140] Recommendation 19, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission WORKability II: Solutions People with Disability in the Open Workplace Final Report of the National Enquiry into Employment and Disability HREOC Sydney December 2005, p 125. The report also distinguishes these workplace flexibilities from "workplace accommodations" that may be needed by employees with certain disabilities.

[141] See Striking the Balance discussion paper, Chapters 3 and 4.

[142] Women With Disabilities Australia, Submission from Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission National Inquiry into Employment and Disability, April 2005, p 9; People with Disability Australia, Submission 104, p 5.

[143] Women With Disabilities Australia, Submission from Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA) to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission National Inquiry into Employment and Disability, April 2005, p 9.

[144] See for example, Community consultation, Adelaide, 11 July 2005; Community consultation, Perth, 13 September 2005; Community consultation, Darwin, 22 September 2005; Community consultation, Canberra, 18 August 2005; Community consultation, Melbourne, 17 August 2005; Union consultation, Melbourne, 14 July 2005; Union consultation, Hobart, 11 August 2005; Australian Education Union, Submission 119; and Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, Submission 161.

[145] Community consultation, NSW Central Coast, 4 August 2005; Community consultation, Darwin, 22 September 2005; Community consultation, Canberra, 18 August 2005; Community consultation, Perth, 13 September 2005; Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, Submission 161; and Shop Distributive and Allied Employees' Association, Submission 71.

[146] ibid, and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Submission 122, p 6; Australian Industry Group, Submission 162, pp 3-4; Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce, Submission 179.

[147] See, for example, Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, Submission 161, p 6; Australian Education Union, Submission 119, p 2; Police Federation of Australia, Submission 67, pp 10-11; Women's Electoral Lobby Australia, Submission 115, p 10; Business and Professional Women Australia, Submission 109; Mark Dossetor, Submission 155; Disability Council of New South Wales, Submission 76, p 4; Community consultation, Canberra, 18 August 2005.

[148] Community consultation, Canberra, 18 August 2005.

[149] Business and Professional Women, Submission 109.

[150] Alison Preston, Therese Jefferson and Richard Seymour for WiSER - Women in Social & Economic Research Women's Pay and Conditions in an Era of Changing Workplace Regulations: Towards a "Women's Employment Status Key Indicators" (WESKI) database Curtin University of Technology September 2006, pp 3-20.

[151] Mark Dossetor, Submission 155.

[152] Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Submission to the Senate Employment, Workplace Relations and Education Legislation Committee's Inquiry into the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Bill 2005 Sydney November 2005.

July 31, 2009

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