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Australia – Workplace flexibility remains an issue for families

04 December 2013

Over 60% of Australians reported that their employers still fall short of expectations when it comes to supporting family-friendly work practices, according to a survey by recruitment firm Hays. The results suggest that more could be done to enable both the primary caregiver to remain in employment and encourage supporting partners to take a greater role in parenting responsibilities.

In the survey of 766 people, 41% said their workplace is not supportive of family-friendly work practices and a further 21% said there is some support but not enough. Only 38% of respondents said their companies have family-friendly practices.

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director of Hays in Australia and New Zealand, “Businesses that support employees as they start or grow their families are more likely to hold onto skilled and dedicated staff.”

“But it’s not just working women that need access to family-friendly working arrangements. Companies can support both parents through such measures as paid and unpaid parental leave, personal leave to care for sick or injured children and offering ‘keeping in touch days’ during parental leave,”

According to Hays, the benefits of work and family flexibilities can be achieved in all workplaces, regardless of the size of the business.

Mr Deligiannis continued: “There are many benefits to employers in creating family-friendly work practices for both Mums and Dads, including reducing absenteeism, increasing productivity, retaining skilled staff and reducing training costs, reducing staff turnover, attracting new employees, being recognised as an employer of choice and increasing morale and job satisfaction.“

“A balance between work and family allows staff to use employment arrangements to help them manage both family and lifestyle commitments, as well as the needs of their employer. The broader economy would also benefit since with family-friendly work practices more people, predominantly women, can remain in paid employment after having children. This means that participation in the workforce would rise.”

“How Australian men and women split work and family responsibilities continues to be a challenging issue. However, if more men were to embrace flexible working arrangements such as working part-time, seeking job shares or work-from-home options and increase their care-giving responsibilities, gender inequality in the workforce could be reduced,” Mr Deligiannis concluded. 

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