Balancing paid work and family responsibilities
Successfully balancing paid work with family responsibilities remains a major challenge for a large number of Australians. With women continuing to carry the majority of Australia’s unpaid caring work, creating workplaces that support women and men to balance paid work and share caring responsibilities is critical to achieving gender equality.
Australia’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme
Australia’s first national Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme commenced on 1 January 2011. The scheme provides eligible employees with up to 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay at the Federal Minimum Wage, which is around $570 a week (as at June 2010).
In addition the government has committed to providing two weeks' paid paternity leave for fathers from July 2012.
Commissioner Broderick’s Work on Paid Parental Leave
Commissioner Broderick played an instrumental role in the development of the PPL scheme, building on the important work done by previous Sex Discrimination Commissioners who had developed a model for a national PPL scheme. The Australian Human Rights Commission made a submission to the Productivity Commission advocating the introduction of a national PPL scheme and Commissioner Broderick provided verbal information at a Productivity Commission hearing.
Once the Paid Parental Leave Bill had been introduced into Parliament, the Bill was referred to the Senate Community Affairs Committee. The Australian Human Rights Commission made a submission and Commissioner Broderick appeared before this Committee.
While the national PPL scheme is a welcome first step, Commissioner Broderick will continue to lobby for improvements, including:
- superannuation on paid leave
- a minimum of two weeks paid leave for fathers and other supporting parents
- over time a full year of paid parental leave that can be shared between parents, to ensure that children receive the care they need at this important early stage
- within the full year of paid parental leave, a minimum of four weeks paid leave for fathers and supporting parents, available on a ‘use it or lose it’ basis, to enable them to be involved in caring during the first year of their child’s life
- leave paid at the rate of at least two thirds of income, so that more families can afford to take the leave.
As well as lobbying for improvements to the Paid Parental Leave scheme, Commissioner Broderick contributed to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the Effectiveness of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984
The Senate Committee has tabled its final report on 1 March 2011. In its report the Committee commented on amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act which would establish breastfeeding as a separate ground of discrimination and broaden the prohibition on discrimination on the ground of family responsibilities.
For more information about the Inquiry and the amendments, go to ‘Laws to address sex discrimination and promote gender equality’
Commissioner Broderick will continue to challenge the way Australians think about work and family balance by promoting the value of family friendly work practices, such as flexible working arrangements and job re-design.
One of the ways she is doing this is through the current research project on Valuing Unpaid Care. This significant and innovative research, which will be launched later in 2012, will:
- identify models for reforms that will properly recognise and compensate those who undertake unpaid caring work,
- inform evidence-based development of employment and retirement income strategies (e.g. workplace entitlements, flexible workplaces, superannuation reforms); and
- provide valuable information for policy and law-makers, academics and other opinion makers.
More information on the project can be found here:
- After 30 years, PML finally delivered (17 June 2010)
- Women’s employment in the context of the economic downturn (April 2009)
- Submission to Inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parental Leave ( 24 November 2008)
- Listening Tour Community Report. (July 2008)
- Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parental Leave. (June 2008)
- Productivity Commission Inquiry into Paid Maternity, Paternity and Parental Leave. Oral submission by Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick (May 2008)
- Submission to Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations - Discussion Paper, National Employment Standards Exposure Draft (April 2008)
- It's About Time: Women, Men, Work & Family: A report on balancing work and family responsibilities in Australia (March 2007)
- Striking the Balance: Women, Men, Work and family (2005)
- A Time to Value: Proposal for a National Scheme of Paid Maternity Leave (2002)
- Valuing Parenthood: Options for Paid Maternity Leave - Interim Paper (2002)
- Pregnancy Guidelines (2001)
- Pregnant and Productive: It's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant (1999)
Recent speeches and media
- Maternity leave scheme is a must
Published in The Sunday Age, 23 November 2008
- Maternity leave is a must
Published in The Courier Mail, 21 November 2008
- Who cares? Managing flexibility in the workplace, Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Women, Management and Employment Relations Conference, 24 July 2008
- Best practice in workplace culture for the attraction and retention of women
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, NSW Public Sector Senior Women's Network Seminar, 24 June 2008
- Small business needs to think big about paid maternity leave
Published in Sydney Morning Herald, 18 June 2008
- Flexible working practices in the law, Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Work2Suit Forum, 5 June 2008
- Paid Maternity Leave: the question is no longer if, but when...
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Personnel & Industrial Relations Conference, 5 May 2008
- Time to Adjust the work-life balance
Published in The Australian, 11 April 2008
- Maternity scheme is overdue
Published in The Age, 8 April 2008
- Time to induce paid maternity leave
Published in The Newcastle Herald, 28 February 2008
- ‘Work and Family Balance in 2008 – Community voices’,
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, NEEOPA Meeting, 13 February 2008
- Flexibility the key to a better work environment
Published in Sydney Morning Herald, 21 December 2007
- Kids count – better early childhood education and care in Australia
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, 12 November 2007
- Women at Work... come and find out the naked truth
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, 22 October 2007