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Editor's Agenda

Don’t expect employer paid maternity leave, unless you’re surrounded by men

/ Feb 22, 2013 9:38AM / Print / ()

Where there's a lack of female talent there's employer paid maternity leave on offer, according to new data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

And where you find yourself in a workplace surrounded by women, you're less likely to receive such entitlements. Indeed, women still can't expect their employers to offer such entitlements at all with almost half of all organisations surveyed by WGEA still not offering paid maternity leave on top of the Federal government scheme.

The WGEA survey of 2294 companies with more than 100 employees found that those paying paid parental leave tend to be in male-dominated industries. Almost nine out of ten organisations in electricity, gas, water and waste services offer paid maternity leave entitlements on top of the existing government scheme. In financial and insurance services, 75.9% of organisations offer paid maternity leave, as do 68.3% of organisations in professional, scientific and technical services.

But work in the more female dominated-industry of retail, and you'll be lucky to receive paid maternity leave at all given just one in four organisations are currently prepared to offer it. It's worse in the accommodation and food services industry – where more than half of employees are women – with just one in six currently boasting the entitlement.

Interestingly, women in education and training fare much better than women working in female-dominated industries elsewhere. Four of five organisations in the sector currently offer paid maternity leave, with an average duration of 13 weeks.

Industries that have had to compete for female talent appear to be the most generous in assisting women who take time out to have children. It shows that the business case for gender diversity is well and truly catching on, why else make the investment?

Despite that, there appears to be little by way of commitment for those companies not currently offering paid maternity leave to do so in the future. Just 5.1% of companies not currently offering such leave reported they plan to do so in the next 12 months – if they all do, which is unlikely – that would take the total average of companies with more than 100 employees offering it to just over 50%.

The average duration of employer paid maternity leave is 9.7 weeks and 1.6 weeks for paternity leave, which is a reasonable amount to receive when you factor in the current government scheme – 18 weeks at the national minimum wage for women and, as of January 1 2013, two weeks for men and partners.

But receiving both entitlements is not the reality for most women having children. This WGEA study only surveyed organisations with more than 100 employees, the results would be very different and much more disappointing in smaller businesses.




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