Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Superannuation for mums & dads on parental leave

We may still be celebrating the Federal Government's announcement of paid parental leave but what about the Superannuation mums miss out on when on taking maternity leave. On average women have one third as much superannuation savings upon retirement as men. Westpac has become Australia's first bank and private company to agree to pay staff on parental leave Superannuation in the first 12 months in addition to 13 weeks paid parental leave.

Hopefully this will encourage other rivals and friendly friendly businesses to do the same.

Read about what Westpac is doing Bank forks out to set super lead on parental leave

PAUL BIBBY June 30, 2010

As a Sydney mother, Tracy Higgisson, sat and talked about the ground-breaking parental leave policy announced by Westpac yesterday, a friend chimed in from the background.

''It's not fair,'' her friend said. ''Why can't I get that?''

One brief interjection says much about the bank's decision and its likely impact on the industrial landscape.

Westpac announced yesterday that it would continue to pay superannuation to staff who chose to take unpaid parental leave when they had a child, for up to a year.

This is on top of the 13 weeks' paid maternity leave that the bank already offers to staff, including those such as Ms Higgisson, who work for BT, RAMS and St George.

The policy will cost the bank up to $5 million a year. By retirement, the bank's superannuation bonus should become a $72,000 nest egg for an employee on an average salary who takes two periods of parental leave.

Westpac is the first private company to take a stab at one of the glaring inequities in the Australian superannuation system: women on average have one-third as much superannuation upon retirement as men.

The director of the Centre for Work and Life at the University of South Australia, Barbara Pocock, said: ''This effectively sends the message that Westpac is the employer of choice for prime-aged [working] women and it puts them a step ahead in the war for talent.

''There is certainly some pressure on the other banks now. Many women will pay attention to it and some women in other companies and other industries will be asking 'Why doesn't everyone get that?'''

With a 17-month-old and another due in August, super is not Ms Higgisson's priority, but she will benefit from the system and can see the significance.

''I'm having my babies in quick succession - I will have been out of the workforce for two of the past four years - if you think about, 9 per cent of the salary for two years is quite a lot. You hope that when you retire you're still with your partner, but there's always a possibility that you're not.

''If that happens, then the amount of superannuation becomes pretty essential to your life. I think anything an employer does to help parents out during a difficult time is a really good thing.''

Such sentiments were echoed by many yesterday.

It was a far cry from the howls of derision aimed at Westpac late last year when it elected to raise interest rates well above the mark set by the Reserve Bank, and then explained the move with a banana smoothie analogy.

The general manager of AMR Interactive, Oliver Freedman, said: ''There's no doubt they would have wanted to improve their corporate reputation from that point, and I think [this] definitely will. One of the key components of reputation is perception of workplace environment. If you're seen as treating employees well it's likely to be received positively.

''We did a survey earlier this year which had them ranked 48th of 60 companies for corporate reputation. I'd be expecting them to improve from there.''

a parental leave?

Monday, June 21, 2010

How do you manage school hours and work?

Great question; aaahhh the dilemma of 9-3 school hours! Like me if you're a working mum sending your kids off to school in the next year or two you're probably starting to think 'yikes - I've only just got child care working well how on earth am I going to manage working around school hours?'

Don't panic, here's a few useful tips that might help:

1. Think outside the square and be prepared to be flexible and explore a multitude of options rather than putting all your eggs into one solution - plan B is important!

2. After school care is going to be an important part of the support network you’ll need in place when your child starts school but it's popular and often over-subscribed so if you know the school your child is likely to attend, call in advance and see if there's a waiting list application you can put your name on.

3. Explore with your employer(both parents) if it’s an option to leave or finish early from work one or two days a week so you can share the pick up and drop off together. I know people who have negotiated shorter working days and work from home to help their kids settle into the first term and year of school.

4. Ask for help - can family help out one or two days a week with the pick up and drop off two days per week?

5. Look into employing a mother’s helper/babysitter to do the drop off and/or after school care – this this way the carer can help the kids with homework and prepare meals too!

6. Do you know other parents with kids starting school the same year who you could share the pick up and drop off duties with?

I hope this provides some food for thought and that you're able to select a few options that will work for your family. The trick is to get creative and be flexible!

mums@work team

What's the best career option for mums?

What's the best career option after you have a baby - full-time, part-time or no work at all? To work or not to work - that IS the question? Every working mum has the nagging question at some stage of their return to work journey 'is this working and is this worth it?'

Rebecca Gibney and other mums on juggling work after baby talk to Jacinta Tyan, Sunday Life Magazine read more...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Paid Parental Leave - what does it mean?

Thankfully access to paid parental leave is finally a right for ALL Australian working parents, effective 1 January 2010.

But just what does this mean for employers and parents? Who is eligible? What are they entitled to and how will it work? What about working women currently pregnant due before January 2011, what will they be eligible for? What about the baby bonus?

The Federal Government is yet to publish the updated Paid Parental Leave scheme details in answer to these questions on its DEEWR and Fair Work Australia websites, however, employers and parents will find its published interim Booklet - Australia's Paid Parental Leave Scheme - offers some useful informations and answers to common questions.

Parents and Employers can find out more about parental leave entitlements and returning to work via mums@work helpline:

Phone: 02 9967 8377