Interesting reports from Australia

Two reports that were recently highlighted in the APO weekly newsletter on 'Working from home' and 'Spouse/partner parental leave' will be of interest to CLEW subscribers.

Working from home: research paper

Publisher: Australian Productivity Commission

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to large-scale and rapid changes in work practices, including a dramatic increase in the number of people working from home. The pandemic has demonstrated that many jobs can be effectively done from home, and it appears likely that the number of people working from home will remain much higher than it was previously.

This report considers how decisions about location of work will be made as firms and workers continue to learn how to organise their work, and what an increase in working from home might mean for workplace regulation, urban centres and wellbeing more generally.

Dad days: how more gender-equal parental leave would improve the lives of Australian families

Authors: Danielle Wood, Owain Emslie, Kate Griffiths.

Publisher: Grattan Institute

The report claims that Australia currently has one of the least generous parental leave schemes in the developed work, particularly in relation to fathers The secondary carer leave, called Dad and Partner Pay, provides for two weeks at minimum wage and cannot be taken alongside paid leave from an employer. In New Zealand the entitlement is even lower at two weeks unpaid leave.

Overseas experience suggests that policies that allow fathers to be more engaged in the early years have lasting impacts on engagement with children as they grow. Greater sharing of unpaid care gives mothers more scope to do paid work, with clear benefits for both them and the country.

This report recommends adding up to six additional weeks leave to the current 20-week paid parental leave allowance. To encourage leave sharing, this would be done through a 6/12/6 structure – six weeks ‘use it or lose it’ provision for each parent, and 12 weeks to share between them as they choose. To supercharge the incentive for parents – especially fathers – to take leave, the authors recommend an additional two weeks of bonus leave, which could be used by either parent if both parents take at least six weeks leave.