Two critical barriers women face when returning to work include cost of child care and lack of flexible jobs. The cost of child care is an ongoing problem. The Government now offers a 50% childcare rebate which is not means tested so it is certainly a step in the right direction. However, it does not fix the long term problem that over 70% of childcare centres are privately owned. This means that Government has no control over price increases so eventually the 50% childcare rebate will be ineffectual because the yearly increase in childcare fees far outweighs the yearly inflation rate. I think the Government had a wonderful opportunity to purchase the ABC Childcare Centres but it was not to be.
The inability to find flexible jobs continues to be a major barrier but I think that parents will see a huge change in the next couple of years. Many sectors are being challenged by the skills shortage and this will bring about change. In the meantime, parents need to understand their worth and negotiate flexibility. Many employers still don’t understand the concept of flexibility so if a skilled, experienced, mature and loyal candidate puts forward a sound business case, why wouldn’t they consider it?