Unions’ plan to woo more women to workforce

Increasing paid parental leave, making early childhood education free and introducing multi-employer bargaining will increase women’s participation in the workforce and boost Australia’s economy, the peak union body says.

Aug 30, 2022, updated Aug 30, 2022
Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

The proposals come ahead of the federal government’s jobs and skills summit this week which will have an overarching focus on women’s economic opportunities.

A report released by the Australian Council of Trade Unions found that taking action to cut gender inequality in workplaces could unlock $111 billion annually.

Nearly 900,000 women would be in the workforce if they were able to participate at the same rate as men, the report found.

Last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics released data showing the gender pay gap – the difference in full-time earnings between men and women – had grown to 14.1 per cent, up 1.9 per cent from the previous year.

The ACTU report found if the pay gap was cut in half, Australian women would take home an additional $85b, and generate $111b for the economy every year.

But significant barriers will need to be addressed by the federal government to make this happen, ACTU president Michele O’Neil said.

The union group is calling on the government to bring forward its proposed childcare subsidies to January 1 next instead of starting in July as planned.

It also wants paid parental leave to be increased from 18 to 26 weeks with a plan to lift it to 52 weeks by 2030.

The leave should be offered on a shared basis between parents and superannuation must be paid on all leave.

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“Australia has the second worst government-funded paid parental leave scheme in the developed world,” O’Neil said.

“In 2022, women shouldn’t have to give up on having a family and men shouldn’t miss out on being involved in raising their kids because paid parental leave is insufficient.”


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