Senior Partnerships Adviser
A number of male dominated industries are offering higher than average paid maternity and paternity leave entitlements in addition to the government funded paid parental leave scheme according to new data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
The male dominated electricity, gas, water and waste services industry has the highest proportion of organisations offering paid maternity leave. Almost nine out of 10 organisations offer employer funded paid maternity leave and the average length of time on offer is above average at 10.8 weeks (average across all industries is 9.7 weeks). In addition, two thirds of organisations offer employer funded paid paternity leave.
Helen Conway, Director of Workplace Gender Equality said: “Anecdotally we know many male dominated sectors are being constrained by considerable skills shortages and low levels of female participation, and are looking to tackle these issues with attractive employee benefits like generous paid parental leave entitlements.”
In the mining industry, 60% of organisations offer employer funded paid maternity leave, which is above the average of all other industries. An additional 23.1% of organisations told the Agency they planned to introduce paid maternity leave in next 12 months. The length of employer funded paid maternity leave on offer is also above average at 12.1 weeks, compared to an average of 9.7 weeks.
“In addition to helping organisations attract and retain talent, employer funded paid parental leave can also provide a reputational advantage by positioning an employer as family friendly and willing to ‘do the right thing’ by staff - attributes often valued by clients, customers and other stakeholders.
“The government has also recognised paid parental leave is an important driver of female workforce participation, which in turn has a positive impact on economic productivity. These sectors should be congratulated for leading the way in this area,” Ms Conway said.
In contrast, some female dominated industries are less family friendly when it comes to providing paid parental leave entitlements. The retail industry provides lower than average paid maternity leave when compared to other industries at 8.1 weeks, and only one in five retail organisations fund additional paid paternity leave.
In the accommodation and food services industry (where just over half of employees are women) only one in six organisations offer paid maternity leave, and only one in 10 offer paid paternity leave – the lowest incidence of employer funded paid maternity leave and paternity leave across all industries.
However, the female dominated education and training industry offers the highest average length of paid maternity leave at 13 weeks in addition to the government-funded paid parental leave scheme.
Helen Conway said the recently introduced Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Act) will enable the Agency to get a more detailed picture of the status of gender equality in Australian organisations from 2014.
"Business has been crying out for robust industry benchmarks against which they can measure their gender equality performance and the new Act should enable the Agency to meet that demand.”