The Courier-Mail - Career One - - News - Fran Met­calf met­

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.

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