AFTER years of sticking our head in the sand, Australia will join every other OECD country, except the US, in having a paid parental leave scheme.
From January next year, eligible parents will receive the federal minimum wage for up to 18 weeks to help them juggle financial, work and family stresses.
It’s a relief for battling working women, particularly those employed by small firms that may not have the resources to offer paid parental leave.
But at the other end of town, more than 70 per cent of corporate organisations are already offering an average of 12 weeks paid parental leave.
The large majority will continue to do so, providing staff with a double bonus of the company package as well as the federally-funded allowance.
And some large firms are going even further, seizing the chance to promote themselves as gender diverse employers.
Westpac will pay superannuation for up to 39 unpaid weeks on top of its own paid maternity leave provisions.
It’s about time the corporate community took gender diversity seriously.
Research has shown that closing the gap between male and female employment rates would raise Australia’s GDP by 11 per cent.
Recent changes to the ASX rules which make it mandatory for Australian publicly-listed companies to publish a gender breakdown of directors and senior employees are also prodding companies to increase their female count at top levels.
It’s all good news for working women and their families. Just a shame it had to take so long.