Towards gender balanced parental leave

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.

Key findings

  • Paid parental leave encourages and supports women and men in their role as both employees and carers.
  • Parental leave may help breaking down gender stereotypes around unpaid and paid work if taken by women and men.
  • Across OECD countries, paid parental leave entitlements vary in length, generosity and flexibility.
  • Flexible and generous parental leave policies are encouraging men utilising the entitlement.
  • A supportive workplace culture is key to increase fathers/carers uptake of parental leave.

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