Australians want support for dads at work. Here’s why.

by Kerry Mcquillan

This father’s day, Aussies across the nation have called on employers to give their working dads the ultimate gift - time with their families. 

Giving time flexibility is a win win for organisations seeking to attract and retain the best. According to the 2019 employer brand research, which surveyed over 10,000 Australians, the number one attribute that makes a company attractive to employees and job seekers alike is positive work-life balance. 

It should be concerning then for Australian employers that within our recent survey looking at fathers at work, there are  stark concerns from Aussie workers surrounding current parental leave practices. 

  • The majority (7 in 10) believe employers need to do more to support dads after paternity leave. 
  • 71% of men said this was important to them
  • Considering males only take up 2% of extended parental leave (more than two weeks off) in Australia, this is significant
  • Nearly two thirds (59%) of those surveyed agreed that achieving a balance between caring for a new child and earning a living is the number one pressure men face post-baby
  • A lack of paid leave and/or flexible working arrangements comes in at a close second (55%)
  • Juggling their newfound work-life balance as they manage new family responsibilities is third on the list

I see on a daily basis how my husband balances his commitments as husband, colleague and father. Thanks to his employer’s good flexible working policies, he is able to work from home on a set day each week. This means he is able to split his time between looking after our daughter and managing his work load. What’s more, he was able to spend four months on parental leave and I can see how this strengthened his relationship with our daughter. 

The research comes at an opportune moment, with closing the gender pay gap and improving access to paid parental leave both areas needing urgent attention in Australia.

Yet, more needs to be done to remove the stigma around men asking employers for better flexible working practices, challenging gender stereotypes and supporting fathers through this new work-life balance. 

As Brad McEwan, Beyondblue Ambassador, says, “Becoming a father is a life changing moment that comes with great responsibility. They have to be there for those special day care moments, be a support for their partner and be the breadwinner. To bring balance, employers need to say to dads, "you don't have to do this alone." We must give opportunities for dads to ask for help and provide the flexibility they deserve.“

 We have witnessed first-hand the struggles that new fathers face trying to juggle a newborn with their career. Taking on board this research, it’s key that companies take steps to address the nation’s concerns. The more that men are encouraged to take an active role in their child’s care, the more women in the relationship are able to be supported and progress further in their careers. It’s not just good for dads to be able to bond with their new baby, it also promotes better equality in the workplace.

At Randstad, we are proud to offer primary carers 12 weeks paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child, including eight weeks at the time of maternity leave and four weeks upon return. Secondary careers receive one week at full pay and up to eight weeks unpaid. 

We also offer our people great flexible work opportunities, so that they can choose the best time to manage their work and family commitments. 

The research also revealed that providing new dads with flexible working arrangements, including shorter work weeks, part-time options and the choice to work from home (68%), is the most important factor in ensuring they feel supported transitioning back into work.

According to an Australian Institute of Family Studies report, the number of hours fathers spend in employment remains at the same level before and after having children, with dads parenting around their hours of employment too. We need to normalise the agenda by removing the taboo for men talking about parental support.

Businesses must recognise the obstacles that fathers face upon returning to work by enforcing clear policies like flexible working, enhancing paternity leave and pay, and providing a strong support network to allow them to re-enter the workforce smoothly.

 1 PureProfile survey of 1,000 male and female nationally representative Australians, aged 18-55+, August 2019

2 Gender Indicators, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017: https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/by%20Subject/4125.0~Sep%202017~Media%20Release~One%20in%2020%20dads%20take%20primary%20parental%20leave%20(Media%20Release)~11

general manager - diversity and inclusion

Kerry McQuillan

general manager - diversity and inclusion

At Randstad, we believe that it is the combination of diverse views and an environment of inclusion that will benefit our business, our customers and our community. 

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