Workplace flexibility, culture and carer entitlements are crucial for parents, with research showing this yields positive improvements in workforce participation rates and productivity. Yet pregnancy discrimination is common for women, and fathers also face challenges.
Making Australia the best place in the world to be a parent requires strengthening basic workplace entitlements and driving cultural change in individual workplaces. Holistic approaches are important, encompassing the whole parenting lifecycle, from intending parents through to parents of older children. Flexible and supportive workplaces are needed with universal access to paid carers’ leave for sick children. Workplace policies that support perinatal mental health such as counsellors for parents have been shown to be effective at reducing mental distress and improving participation and productivity of working parents.
Financial implications – Supporting parents to fully participate in the workplace while also caring for children has broad economic and health benefits:
■ Improved health outcomes for children;
■ Reduced parental stress; and
■ Higher workforce participation and productivity.
While we do not model directly the benefits from these policies, we know that in order to realise all the benefits outlined from improved parental health supports, parental leave and ECEC, a cultural shift will need to occur in workplaces.