Importance of Parental Leave and Return to Work

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Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner

We know that the financial impact of having children reverberates for the rest of women’s lives, and can affect their lifetime economic security. Wages and superannuation are on hold for many women who take parental leave after the birth of a child.

However, we also need to acknowledge the structural barriers that both women and men face in taking parental leave and accessing flexible work. These include the limited availability, affordability and accessibility of early childhood education and care services, as well as the underlying stereotypes and assumptions about childbearing, parenting and the roles of women and men in the home and in the workplace.

Managing pregnancy, parental leave and return to work in the workplace is critical to the growth of a strong economy and a cohesive society.

Taking parental leave should be a positive experience for both parents, and is crucial in maintaining work life balance. More importantly, adequate support for parents to return to work ensures a long term and productive working life, greater lifetime financial security and a healthy family.