Balancing Parental Needs with Leave

Balancing Parental Needs with Leave

Jody Kershaw | Senior Learning and Development Advisor 

I am passionate about making sure everyone has access to the same opportunities in life and this is why gender equity is so important to me. In Australia, we have a significant gender pay gap with women earning on average 21% less than men; additionally, women are responsible for most of the unpaid care and domestic work. 

Having both a son and a daughter, I want to make sure that their futures are different, that they can choose to work in any job and in any industry they want, and they can participate fully at work and at home without any bias or discrimination. 

One of the initiatives and changes I am very proud of is Clough’s equitable parental leave. In 2021, recognising that males in the business were less likely to access parental leave and more likely to be refused or experience bias when applying, we implemented changes to address this. These changes included extending eligibility to our trades and labour workforce, removing eligibility periods to claim parental leave, paying superannuation on the unpaid portion of parental leave and covering stillbirth and surrogacy. These changes resulted in a significant increase in the number of people in the workforce who could access parental leave.

 After speaking with new parents, discussing barriers and biases they had experienced when utilising parental leave, further changes to Clough’s parental leave entitlements were made. These changes included increasing the period in which parental leave can be claimed, from 12 months to 24 months following the birth, adoption or surrogacy, and allowing flexibility in how parental leave can be used, including in a part-time capacity. These changes ensure our people have the support and flexibility they need to manage their work and family life, as well as encourage shared caring responsibilities amongst all parents. 

We have worked to challenge gender-based stereotypes around parental leave by sharing case studies of males taking flexible parental leave. This has had a positive impact on the culture of business, normalising parental leave for all genders and resulting in up to 50% of primary parental leave being utilised by males. 

By implementing changes like these, we support women to remain employed as they start a family, ultimately minimising future gender pay gaps, career advancement impacts and the superannuation gaps experienced by many women at retirement. 

We also encourage more males to take primary parental leave, creating a more equal division of unpaid care and paid work which ultimately improves family work-life balance and contributes to gender equity.

Innovation Starts with People

Innovation Starts with People

Manufacturer Jayco is leading Gender Equity Innovation

Like all manufacturers, Jayco has been suffering from lockdowns, shortage of labour and competition from cheap Chinese imports. Initially, they struggled to attract people spending hours on Seek and even resorted to putting up billboards to gain enough staff to meet the increasing demand for caravans.  Their innovation came with the decision to break with traditional 8-hour shifts and create a shift that supports working mothers, allowing them to do school drop off & pick up. Despite the fears of the sceptics, the results have been extraordinary with these part-time mothers being highly productive and rarely absent.

Another initiative to counteract the labour shortages has been to employ women on visas with only six months left. Many would have said this was a waste of time. Those at Jayco have decided to go the extra mile for their employees. They are proactively working as an employer to help them become Australian residents. All this continues to build a loyal and committed workforce. Today more than 50% of the new recruits to Jayco come via word of mouth from their existing employees.

CEO, Gerry Ryan says, “the most important part of your business is people and great people help you build a great business”. Jayco as a company is not only innovative in bringing women on as shift workers, it has been increasing female representation at every level. Only three years ago 20% of the management team were female, today that number has doubled, to 40% which is rarely seen in manufacturing,  creating career paths for those women starting on the factory floor. This has been nurtured with the Jayco Women in Leadership program. Gerry continues,” it is about the best people for the job and to do that we need to upskill and develop our people”. He is adamant that by supporting gender equity he has created a stronger and more committed company that continues to grow and be successful.

When asked, what tomorrow brings, Gerry shared his ambitious plans to work across 15,000 school children to educate them on the benefits of apprenticeships encouraging more to see trades as a viable option, ” I am not waiting years, we are doing it now!”