Majority Aussies want equal parental leave

Heather McNab
(Australian Associated Press)


More than three-quarters of Australians believe both parents should get equal parental leave when having a baby, a new survey suggests.

A survey of 1028 people, including 653 parents, commissioned by ING Bank found some 76 per cent of those surveyed supported equal parental leave.

More than 90 per cent of those surveyed believe both parents should be considered equal caregivers in the home and 86 per cent believe the same should be the case for parents in the workplace.

The survey suggests 69 per cent of Australians believe the terms primary and secondary caregivers promote unequal levels of caregiving in families, while more than three-quarters of same-sex couples feel the removal of the labels is more inclusive.

Some 85 per cent agree equal parental leave would strengthen new family units and 77 per cent of families believe it would ease the pressures of raising a child.

Half of the men who are secondary caregivers believe they have less justification to ask for parental leave from their employer.

Some 39 per cent said they would not feel comfortable asking for parental leave and 41 per cent would feel judged by colleagues or their boss for taking the leave.

The survey also found some 60 per cent of women want more support from their partner in raising their child while just over a quarter of men found it difficult to be useful to their partner when they became parents.

The survey found 58 per cent of mothers and 69 per cent of women without children believe having a baby will impact their career, while 34 per cent of fathers and 55 per cent of men without children thought the same.

ING will on Wednesday become the first Australian bank to give both primary and secondary carers an equal 14 weeks of paid parental leave.

Melanie Evans, head of retail at ING and mother of two, believes the move would encourage more women into executive ranks.

“It will absolutely make a difference, there’s plenty of research that shows the successful re-entry of parents into the workforce is incredibly important to progressing someone’s career,” Ms Evans told AAP.

Ms Evans said she hopes the initiative will encourage other Australian companies to follow suit.

“I really hope this is the first of many changes of Australian companies and workplaces in responding to the fact that Australian families do need more access to paid parental leave and they do need more flexibility in caring arrangements,” she said.


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