The National 2017 Group

Many of our employees have caring responsibilities, but there can be career and financial penalties for carers in our workforces. This experience is mostly felt by women. Often the provisions and support offered by organisations are not expansive enough to counter these penalties. To enable carers to thrive equally in organisations, we need focus on actively dismantling barriers for carers.

When policies are not gender neutral, men do not have equal access to the same provisions as women. The uptake of caring responsibilities by men, for example through parental leave, is therefore often low. This exacerbates the stereotype of defaulting to women as primary carers, which in turn entrenches gender inequalities. Dismantling barriers for carers demands we lead with expansive, equal access policies; invest in manager capability and create new pathways for carers to progress their careers.

Viva Energy case study: Full superannuation payments on unpaid parental leave

What we heard: Women face unique challenges when it comes to retirement savings. Statistics show they retire on average with less than half the amount of superannuation than men.

Action taken: Viva Energy became the first Australian company to offer working parents full superannuation payments of 12% base salary for up to 5 years during unpaid parental leave and part-time work periods.

Impact: While the policy applies equally to men and women, it will make an enormous difference to the retirement savings of women employees. As it is women who traditionally take extended time off to have children and often return to work part-time.

Viva Energy case study: Keeping in Touch toolkit

What we heard: Employees returning from parental leave commented that they would like more input into how they remained connected to, and informed about work issues during their leave.

Action Taken: Worked with employees who had recently taken Parental Leave to redevelop our “Keeping in Touch” checklist and toolkit for managers. The checklist is intended to provide line managers with a guide as to how much contactemployees wish to maintain whilst on parental leave, the topics they wish to be informed about and the regularity. While someemployees like to hear from their line manager regularly, others may not want any contact until they are ready to return to work – the checklist and toolkit helps identify this. It also helps line managers to have a proactive conversation and determine with the individual what is going to work best.

Impact: Both men and women returning from parental leave have commented that having input into how they wanted to be ‘kept in touch with’ has meant they can more easily balance their time between caring and remaining connected with work on the topics that are important to them. The checklist has also been a good prompt for line managers to share relevant information with their people who are on parental leave.

Konica Minolta case study: Gender neutral parental leave policy

What we heard: Separating parents into primary and secondary categories -often allocated to women and men respectively – reinforces entrenched gender roles. It also has the knock-on effects of men finding it more difficult to request parental leave and women being apprehensive about returning to work due to career stagnation.

Action taken: In Konica Minolta’s new Parental Leave Policy, they no longer refer to ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ caregivers. It recognises that both parents share parenting responsibilities and would benefit equally from time with new children in their family, whether by birth or adoption.

The new policy enables all eligible parents to take 12 weeks of paid parental leave. It will be able to be taken at any time, in a manner that best suits the family’s needs during the first three years of welcoming their new child. While the policy will come into effect immediately, pro-rata leave will also be available retrospectively for up to three years, for new parents who were eligible at the time of birth or adoption. An employee is eligible for paid and unpaid parental leave if they have worked for Konica Minolta for at least 12 months before the date of birth or adoption.

Impact: Konica Minolta’s commitment to improving their practice and pushing hard to realise gender equality has resulted in three consecutive Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citations from Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency. It also received the 2018 Human Rights in Business Award from the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Transdev case study: Parental Leave Case Study Communications Plan

What we heard: Separating parents into maternity and paternity leave, allocated to women and men respectively, reinforces entrenched gender roles. These systemic expectations result in women feeling pressured to make a choice, caring or career and men finding it more difficult to request parental leave. The need for a gender-neutral leave policy was required to help reduce barriers to care giving.

Action taken: Transdev launched a Parental Leave Case Study Communications Plan, promoting Transdev’s new gender-neutral parental leave policy. This was designed to ensure its workforce understood that not all carers are mothers, encouraging men, women, and same sex couples alike to actively take up this policy

Impact: Transdev’s commitment to improving their practices has resulted in increased confidence levels of female employees feeling supported by their workplace and males feeling empowered to take up the policy. Transdev’s integrated awareness campaigns, training and pushing hard to realise gender equality has resulted in recognition of two consecutive Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citations from Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency and winning the 2019 Workforce Diversity Award at the annual HR Awards.