Parental leave is an employee benefit received when an employee or an employee's partner gives birth (including stillbirth, surrogacy and adoption). This benefit can take the form of paid leave or unpaid leave. According to 2020-21 WGEA data, 3 in 5 employers (60%) offer access to paid parental leave (either to both women and men or to women only), in addition to the government scheme. over 50% of non-public sector employers provide access to paid parental leave. Women account for 88% of all primary carer’s leave utilised and men account for 12%.
Parental leave policies are a major feature of family polices in OECD countries. However, the share of men using parental leave remains low.
Parental leave policies are designed to support and protect working parents around the time of childbirth or adoption of a child and when children are young. The availability of paid parental leave for each parent fosters a more equal division of unpaid care and paid work, improving the family work-life balance.
Australia’s combined approach to parental leave provides some flexibility about when leave can be used. If available, fathers/partners tend to take employer paid parental leave, rather than government funded parental leave.
The availability of employer-funded paid parental leave has reached its highest level in the six-year dataset. This might be a cause for celebration if not for the fact that one in two workplaces provide no access to paid parental leave to their employees.