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Expanding Parental Leave for Australian Dads is the greatest gift

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Parental Leave

The Parenthood has welcomed the release of the Grattan Institute’s parental leave report on Father’s Day and its recommendations for a more generous and equitable leave system.

The new report, Dad days: how more gender-equal parental leave would improve the lives of Australian families, recommends greater equity by expanding the paid leave scheme from 18 weeks to 26 weeks, with six weeks reserved for each parent plus 12 weeks to share between them, paid at the current rate of minimum wage.

Single parents would receive 26 weeks of paid leave.

An Equity Economics report, commissioned by The Parenthood and released in February this year confirmed Australia’s paid parental leave scheme is one of the least adequate in the OECD, which entrenches the caring gap between mums and dads. The report found extending parental leave to 52 weeks at full pay to be shared equally between parents would lead to increased female participation worth $116 billion to Australian GDP by 2050.

The Parenthood Executive Director Georgie Dent said the pandemic has brought into sharp focus the precarious foundations on which too many Australian families with young children have built their lives.

“Australia needs an adequate and equitable paid parental leave system that encourages mums and dads to share the care from day one,” she said. “This matters because caring patterns set in the first year of a child’s life persist.

“Australian dads take less than 20 per cent of the parental leave that dads take globally which increases isolation for new mothers and perpetuates the expectation that mums will assume the responsibility for caring. This significantly reduces their ability to remain connected to paid work and progress in their careers.

“Men taking more parental leave is terrific for child development, improves the mental health of mums and the strength of relationships and it reduces the ‘motherhood penalty’ and assists women back to paid work sooner.

“There are clear benefits from supporting and encouraging men to be active fathers and take on responsibility for the care and wellbeing of their young children. It’s good for Dads, really important for children and helps bring women closer to true equality.

“The paid parental leave and early learning systems are in urgent need of reform so they better support the needs and ambitions of modern families and young children,” Ms Dent said.

Dad days: how more gender-equal leave would improve the lives of Australian families report available here: https://grattan.edu.au/report/dad-days/.

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