With the skills shortage tightening and women accounting for 50% of the workforce, it is fast becoming a national issue to retain skills, experience and expertise in the workplace.
Another important aspect to this debate is the cost of paying parental leave for small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). SMEs have embraced the challenge of offering flexible and part time roles (as needed by parents) but they find that paying parental leave entitlements is cost prohibitive.
The Federal Government needs to step up to the mark. Parental leave is paid for a finite period of time and it provides the following benefits:
- It improves the wellbeing and health of mothers, infants and children.
- It assists employers by increasing labour market attachment and lowering the cost of turnover and recruitment.
- It reduces the inequities between women in different employment sectors.
Australia and the US are the only OECD countries without a national system of paid parental leave. Ongoing consultation is no longer required. There is evidence in other countries to suggest that a systems of paid parental leave drastically improves work participation rates and productivity.