Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Bill announced for Paid Parental Leave for Dads

Legislation introduced into the parliament today will give eligible dads and partners financial support to take time off work to bond with their new baby from 1 January next year.

The Paid Parental Leave and Other Legislation Amendment (Dad and Partner Pay and Other Measures) Bill 2012 builds on the Australian Government’s successful Paid Parental Leave scheme, by introducing Dad and Partner Pay - a dedicated two-week payment to gives dads and partners the opportunity to stay at home for two weeks with their new baby.

Eligible working dads and other partners, such as same-sex couples, will have access to two weeks government-funded Dad and Partner Pay at the National Minimum Wage (currently about $590 a week before tax).

This new payment will give families more options to balance work and family commitments.

With more assistance to take time off work when a new baby joins the family, dads will be able to support mums and be involved in the care of their baby right from the start.

This is good for dads, it’s good for mums, and it helps give babies the best start in life.

To be eligible for Dad and Partner Pay, a person must have an annual income of $150,000 or less. The new entitlement will be available to full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers who have worked at least 330 hours (just over one day a week) in 10 of the 13 months prior to the start of Dad and Partner Pay.

This payment will be especially important for dads and partners who work in casual jobs without annual leave entitlements, and self-employed people such as tradespeople, small business owners and farmers.

A family will be able to receive Dad and Partner Pay either on its own or in addition to Paid Parental Leave or other family payments such as the Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefit.

Dad and Partner Pay will also help ensure that fathers and partners taking time away from work to care for a child is seen as a normal part of work and family life.

Since the Government’s historic Paid Parental Leave scheme began on 1 January 2011, more than 150,000 new mums have applied.

Source: The Hon Jenny Macklin

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tie manager remuneration to gender diversity results: EOWA director

The time for talking about gender equality and waiting for people to "get it" is over - real action is needed now, according to Helen Conway, director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).

There is a limited window of opportunity to achieve gender equality before "gender fatigue" derails progress and "potentially mortally wound[s] the cause", she told the
Twentieth Annual Kingsley Laffer Memorial Lecture in Sydney last week.

While applauding the honesty of the
Male Champions of Change - a group of corporate leaders who last year admitted that while they were taking steps toward gender equality, they were "far from the end state" - Conway questioned whether their phased approach to the task was appropriate.

"The fact is that gender equality in the workplace has been the subject of discussion for a very long time and there is broad acceptance of the case for change.

"We need action and we need it now. The time for talking is over. We simply can't wait while people work through various stages of 'getting it'."

Conway believes there are three key steps for achieving change:

  1. Leadership - This is "without a doubt the most important driver of change".

    Each leader - including the board, CEO, executive team and senior managers - "must have a competency in managing diversity. While such a competency may come naturally to some, in most cases leaders will need specific training in this regard".

    "Each leader, at a minimum, must do three things - visibly present as a believer in, and advocate for, gender equality; be a role model; and set clear expectations with their direct reports in relation to gender-equality initiatives."

  2. Focus - Align gender equality with business strategy and establish it as a business priority.

    "This is an essential underpinning for successful gender equality initiatives. What these initiatives might be will differ from organisation to organisation. What is essential is that a detailed analysis is conducted to clearly identify the particular issues that need to be addressed to remove barriers to gender equality."

  3. Accountability - "As with any business imperative, accountability is an essential part of making things happen.

    "Accountability involves establishing clear action plans, measuring and transparently reporting outcomes and holding managers to account for achieving results."

    Conway says the most effective way to hold managers to account is to tie their remuneration to the results for which they are responsible.
On accountability, Conway says it is essential to be "constant and vigilant".

"This will deal with the resistance to change often found in the ranks of middle management. This is emerging as a particular concern in relation to gender equality. Anecdotal evidence suggests some male middle managers are passively resisting initiatives underpinning targets relating to the appointment of women to management positions because they consider these initiatives to be a threat to them."

The model outlined is "the sort... you would apply to any business initiative", Conway says.

"The problem is... gender equality is not seen as a central business issue, so the usual disciplines that apply to ensure the achievement of business initiatives generally are not applied to gender equality."

She draws a comparison to the approach taken towards improving safety performance in Australian industry, noting that: "The improvements speak for themselves. Perhaps there are some lessons here which could be applied to gender equality." 

Proposed reforms
Conway also outlined the reforms proposed in the recently introduced Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill.

The proposed legislation would amend the objects of the Act to include promoting equal remuneration between women and men; eliminating discrimination on the basis of gender in relation to family and caring responsibilities; and improving the quality and competitiveness of Australian business through the advancement of gender equality in employment and in the workplace.

It would also remove the current requirement for reporting organisations (private sector companies with 100+ employees) to develop workplace programs around gender diversity.

Instead, they must report against a set of gender equality indicators focussed on outcomes to be set by the Minister for the Status of Women (including gender composition of the workforce, equal remuneration, and availability of flexible work).

If an organisation fails to meet a minimum standard, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (the proposed new name for EOWA), will be required to provide advice and assistance. If the organisation fails to lift its performance over a two-year period without a reasonable excuse, it will be in breach of the Act and unable to engage in Federal Government procurement or receive certain grants.

Conway says the Agency will continue to be a "light touch" regulator and work cooperatively with organisations to help them achieve compliance.

But she says many workplace practices "represent stereotypes not compatible with how we live today", and employers that ignore that reality "do so at their own peril".

"It is always better to be 'ahead of the pack' rather than have change forced upon you in an unplanned way."

Read Conway's lecture or view the presentation

Source: hr daily

2012 EOWA Employer of Choice for Women List

Accommodation and Food Services
McDonald’s Australia Limited
Peoplebank Australia Limited
Sutherland District Trade Union Club Limited t/a Tradies

Education and Training
Australian Catholic University Limited t/a Australian Catholic University
Brisbane Girls Grammar School
Catholic Education Office – Adelaide
Curtin University of Technology t/a Curtin University
Deakin University
Flinders University
Griffi th University
ITC Limited
Korowa Anglican Girls’ School t/a Korowa Anglican Girls’ School
La Trobe University
Lauriston Girls’ School
Loreto Normanhurst Limited t/a Loreto Normanhurst
Meriden School
Queensland University of Technology
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology t/a RMIT University
Santa Sabina College Limited t/a Santa Sabina College
St Michael’s Grammar School
Swinburne University of Technology
The Society of The Sacred Advent – St Aidan’s Trust t/a St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School
The University of Melbourne
The University of New South Wales t/a UNSW
The University of Newcastle
The University of Sydney
The University of Western Australia
University of Canberra
University of South Australia
University of Technology Sydney
University of the Sunshine Coast
University of Western Sydney

Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services
AGL Energy Limited t/a AGL Energy
Origin Energy Limited

Financial and Insurance Services
Allianz Australia Services Pty Ltd
American Express Australia Limited
AMP Limited
ASX Limited
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
Australian Unity Group Services Pty Ltd
AustralianSuper Pty Ltd
Bank of Western Australia Limited t/a Bankwest
Citi group Pty Ltd t/a Citi
Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Credit Union Australia Limited
HSBC Bank Australia Limited
National Australia Bank Limited
Perpetual Limited
Queensland Country Credit Union Limited
State Street Australia Limited
Suncorp Group Limited t/a Suncorp
TAL Direct Pty Ltd t/a Insuranceline
Teachers Credit Union Limited
Teachers Federation Health Limited t/a Teachers Health Fund
UBS AG, Australia Branch
VicSuper Pty Ltd
Westpac Banking Corporation

Healthcare and Social Assistance
Anglican Aged Care Services Group t/a Benetas
Baxter Healthcare Pty Ltd
Calvary Health Care Bethlehem Limited
Calvary Health Care Sydney Limited
Calvary Private Health Care Limited t/a Calvary John James Hospital
Calvary Retirement Communities Hunter-Manning Limited
Cancer Council Queensland
Cerebral Palsy Alliance
Epworth Foundation
Illawarra Retirement Trust
Little Company of Mary Health Care Limited
MECWA t/a mecwacare
Mercy Health and Aged Care Inc t/a Mercy Health
SDN Children’s Services
The Creche and Kindergarten Association of Queensland t/a C&K
The Frank Whiddon Masonic Homes of New South Wales t/a The Whiddon Group
UnitingCare Children, Young People & Families
Villa Maria Society
Warrigal Care

Information Media and Telecommunications
John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd
Publicis Loyalty (Melbourne) Pty Ltd
REA Group Limited

BP Australia Group Pty Ltd t/a BP Australia Pty Ltd
GlaxoSmithKline Australia Pty Ltd
GM Holden Ltd
The PepsiCo Australia Group t/a The Smith’s Snackfood Company Limited
The Shell Company of Australia Limited

Alcoa of Australia Limited t/a Alcoa World Alumina, Australia
ConocoPhillips Australia Pty Ltd
ExxonMobil Australia Pty Ltd

Other Services
Cummins South Pacifi c Pty Ltd
The Young Women’s Christian Association of Canberra t/a YWCA of Canberra
U@MQ Limited

Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
AECOM Australia Pty Ltd
Allens Arthur Robinson
Arup Pty Ltd
Ashurst Australia
Baker & McKenzie
Callista Software Services Pty Ltd
Clayton Utz
Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers
Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu t/a Deloitte
Ernst & Young Services Pty Ltd t/a Ernst & Young Services
Gilbert + Tobin
Henry Davis York
Holding Redlich
IBM Australia Ltd
King & Wood Mallesons
KPMG Australian Services Pty Ltd
McCullough Robertson
Microsoft Pty Ltd
Minter Ellison
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Norton Rose Australia
PricewaterhouseCoopers t/a PricewaterhouseCoopers Services
Sinclair Knight Merz Pty Ltd
Thoughtworks Australia Pty Ltd

Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services
Stockland Development Pty Ltd t/a Stockland

Retail Trade
Corporate Express Australia Pty Limited
Luxottica Retail Australia Pty Ltd

Wholesale Trade
Amgen Australia Pty Ltd
Becton Dickinson Pty Ltd
Merck Serono Australia Pty Ltd

Source: EOWA

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pregnant Employees: tread carefully or risk court's wrath

Employers may think they’re being strategic by weeding out prospective mums from their permanent workforce, but a court has made a discrimination finding and hit the offending employer with a $44,000 fine for doing exactly that.

The former employee claimed in a New South Wales court that, after completing her 12-month contract as a program supervisor in 2008, she was not offered a permanent contract as promised because she became pregnant. The court ruled in favour of the employee, who claimed she was not given a chance to reapply for the position, which was advertised externally without her knowledge. She also alleged she was discriminated against upon returning from maternity leave the following year, namely by being made a casual instead of permanent part-time employee, at the behest of her manager who advised her to resign her permanent role to work the shifts she was seeking. Additionally, the employee said she was not offered any shifts as of May 2010 following a dispute with her supervisor.

The Federal Magistrates Court found that as of November 2008, the employer had decided to ease the employee out of the business, viewing her as “troublesome”, and henceforth decided to offer her role to another applicant because there was a chance she would not return to work after giving birth. “Her pregnancy, maternity leave and child care responsibilities provided the catalyst, or perhaps more correctly the vehicle, through which (the company’s CEO) sought to limit her participation in the respondent’s workforce and, ultimately, to affect her removal from it,” Federal Magistrate Nick Nicholls said.

He ordered the company’s board to apologise to the former employee for failing to act on the employee’s complaint following the dispute with her supervisor, and ruled that the board was partially responsible for the discrimination the employee suffered.

Note to HR
The employer was also chastised for failing to keep appropriate records of its interactions with the employee. “…the business of the organisation, at least those matters dealt with by the CEO, (were) … so lacking in record keeping, note taking, minutes of meetings, diary entries and the like, that very few records, if any, were able to be produced in relation to the contentious issues before the court,” said the magistrate, thus underlining the importance in the eyes of the law of transparency of processes, clear rationale and consistent record keeping.

Source: hc mag

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Flexible work language must change

Print Article


Changing the language organisations use to describe flexible work will help remove some
of the stigma that it is only for mothers, and allow it to become "mainstream", Diversity
Council Australia says.

Terms like "work-life support" and "flexible working arrangements" foster the view that

flexible work is "special treatment" for a select few, including mothers of young children,
and those with significant personal health needs, DCA CEO Nareen Young says.

Flexible work should be "available to everyone for a broad range of reasons - from fathers

who want to be involved in the hands-on caring for their children, to those who have
elderly parents who need care, or those who want to ease back on work as they prepare
for retirement", she says.

Launching a research report on the topic, Get flexible! Mainstreaming Flexible Work in

Australian Business, Young says that employers should instead promote "flexible work"
and "flexible careers".     
Flexible work far from "standard"
The research was conducted by DCA in partnership with The Westpac Group, Stockland,
Origin Energy and Allens Arthur Robinson, in order to bring attention to the fact that
flexibility is still not standard business practice in Australia.

Flexible work options have been provided by leading diversity employers for some years

now, but "flexibility is still not viewed as a valid and legitimate management tool and career
choice", it says.

The next "flexibility frontier", according to the report, is the need for Australian organisations

to go beyond providing and supporting a range of flexible work options to now start looking
at ways they can "mainstream flexibility".

And by "flexibility", it means: "flexible work, including how, when and where work is

conducted; flexible careers, including ramping up or ramping down career investment at
different life stages; and flexible work and career progression both
being possible".

The report outlines 10 "essential elements" of what flexible work would look and feel like if

it was mainstreamed in organisations, including:
  • There is a culture of flexibility that attracts and retains talent -
    "Flexible work is
    central to the organisational brand and to the employee value
  • Everyone, at all levels, engages in flexible work -
    "When flexibility is mainstreamed
    we would see flexible work being engaged in by all
    demographic groups, men and
    women, across all types of jobs and at all levels. It was
    recognised that for this to
    happen a complete re-think about the nature of work, and
    both job and career design would be required - it would need an entirely different
    organisational and managerial mindset. Jobs and careers would be actively designed
    with flexible work in mind";
  • Flexible work is evident in both formal and informal processes - A formal
    policy-based approach would set out arrangements for part-time work and relevant
    rights and responsibilities based on legislation (such as the right to request flexibility).
    On the informal side, managers would be empowered, and have the skills, to enter into
    arrangements with employees, and individuals would have the autonomy to make their
    own decisions about when and where they work, while taking responsibility for meeting
    performance objectives;
  • Flexible work is engaged in for any reason - "Currently the overwhelming focus is
    on the commonly accepted reasons: child care responsibilities and for some significant
    personal health need [but this] approach necessarily limits the demographic groups
    engaged in flexible work".
Advice for employers
Experts consulted for the report identified four key reasons why organisations should
embrace flexible work.

They say that by mainstreaming flexibility:

  • Businesses will be sustainable and adaptable to change;
  • Flexible work and careers become a pathway to gender equality;
  • Talent will be attracted and maintained; and
  • Workplaces will be more productive.

The report says that in order to make flexible working standard, employers should:
  1. Incorporate flexibility into workplace design - Integrate flexibility into job
    descriptions, job and work design, and teams; integrate flexibility into performance
    reviews and development plans; assess performance on outcomes, and recognise
    outcomes can be met in different ways; treat flexibility as a management deliverable;
    and explore possibilities of technology and alternative work strategies.
  2. Create a culture of flexibility - Ensure those who work flexibly are "accepted"; base
    relationships and expectations on trust; ensure flexible work is seen as "the way things
    are done around here"; and challenge the stigma of working flexibly.
  3. Improve leadership around flexibility - Ensure senior leaders: genuinely commit to
    flexible work; lead by example (as effective role models for flexibility); have an active
    approach to mainstreaming flexibility; have the capabilities to manage a predominantly
    flexible workforce; and ensure all staff have the necessary skills to engage in flexible
  4. Talk about flexibility - Show the business benefits; redefine flexible work by bringing
    it to life with examples; illustrate success stories and provide the details to enable
    others to copy; and show how flexible work arrangements work on a practical level.
  5. Strategise around flexibility - Identify flexible work as a business need; have a
    long-term business commitment to flexible work; create a strategy for a predominantly
    flexible workforce as part of workforce planning; and report progress and outcomes as
    part of standard business reporting.
  6. Make flexibility universal - Foster a genuine acceptance of flexible work by all; ensure
    flexible work is available to all, regardless of job type or level; and educate
    clients/customers and the community about flexible work.
  7. Provide resources to support flexibility - Equip people with the tools they need
    (e.g. IT, team-based processes); provide appropriate resourcing for flexibility; review
    policy and systems that may impede flexibility implementation; and explore new ways
    of meeting clients' needs and consult clients and customers about this.
  8. Measure ROI on flexibility - Engage in risk (e.g. not being flexible) versus return
    (e.g. retaining a skilled workforce) discussions; make the connection between flexibility
    and increased individual, team and organisational performance; and measure the
    impact of flexible work and show the financial returns.
  9. Proactively seek flexibility - Look for opportunities to integrate flexibility into
    day-to-day business operations, and focus on 'why not flexibility' rather than looking
    for reasons to 'block' flexibility.

  10. Support team flexibility - Consider the impact of flexible work on the whole team;
    focus on support from within and across teams; welcome team-based feedback on the
    impact of flexibility; and create flexibly autonomous teams.
  11. Promote career flexibility - Create flexible career opportunities, and integrate flexibility
    into senior roles.

Source: hr daily

Monday, March 12, 2012

Why boardroom diversity matters to business

The business case for boardroom diversity has been firmly established and is supported by a growing body of industry research demonstrating links between gender diversity on boards and positive organisational outcomes, according to a peak diversity body.
In a report coinciding with International Women’s Day (8 March), the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) cited research from the US which identified higher financial performance for companies with larger representation of women board directors in three key financial measures:

  • Return on equity (ROE): on average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 53%
  • Return on sales (ROS): on average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 42%
  • Return on invested capital: on average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66%
Consulting firm Virtcom found that while diversity of board members’ skills and knowledge background was important, it was improving the representation of women and ethnic minorities on the board that had the greatest impact on diversity of perspective and thought.
Australian research has arrived at similar conclusions. The Reibey Institute also found that ASX500 companies with female directors delivered an average 11.1% higher ROE over five years than those without women directors.

More women round the table
The introduction of ASX’s Corporate Governance Principles last year triggered a flurry of corporate activity in Australian boardrooms – and recent metrics indicate that female representation on boards is on the up. According to the Australian Institute of Company Directors, as at January 2012 women comprised 13.8% of company directors on ASX200 boards , up from 8.3% two years previous.

Also 28% of new appointments to ASX200 boards in 2011 were women, compared to just 5% in 2009; and in the first month of 2012 women comprised 50% of new appointments to ASX200 boards.

Leaky pipeline for women leaders
Despite growing interest in workforce diversity among organisations in Australia and New Zealand, just 26% have a clearly defined strategy to attract and retain women long enough to reach senior leadership positions, according to women's leadership research conducted by Mercer last year.

And in a tight labour market, even world-leading levels of support around flexible work arrangements might not be sufficient to retain women long enough to reach mid-level and senior leadership positions – which could seriously impact an organisations' business performance.

“The problem is not the lack of female talent, rather the leaky pipeline whereby women drop out at senior levels at disproportionate numbers. This is our greatest challenge – not losing such a valuable group of people on the way to the top,” Marianne Roux from Mercer said.

Source: HC mag

Sunday, March 11, 2012

HSBC to offer part-time roles to all new parents

Move will encourage women to progress their careers, says bank

HSBC is to guarantee the option of a part-time role at current title and salary grade to all staff returning from maternity or paternity leave.

Jobs equivalent to at least two-and-a-half days per week on a pro-rata salary and same level as their original role will be offered to returning parents, in a bid to help employees “balance the demands of family life with their career development”.

While every new parent is entitled to request part-time or flexible working there is no legal obligation for UK employers to provide it.

The bank said that the move – believed to be the first by a large corporate – recognised the difficulties faced by staff trying to juggle work and home life commitments.

Sue Jex, head of employee relations at HSBC, said: “As a business we see about 1,100 staff each year taking parental leave following childbirth and of this number, 87 per cent want to return to work.

“By guaranteeing our returning parents part-time roles, we are supporting our staff by offering more flexible working patterns in order to help balance the need for child care while maintaining household income.”

Jex added that parenthood was sometimes cited as
a reason for the under-representation of women at board level, but that HSBC was committed to bringing women into senior positions.

“We hope that by guaranteeing part-time roles we can encourage those women who want to continue their careers and allow them to reach the levels to which they aspire,” she explained.

Staff seeking an extended period of leave will also be offered a one-year unpaid sabbatical and a ‘priority returner scheme’ if they rejoin HSBC within five years.

The bank already operates a job sharing option and
working parents’ network, and offers 14 weeks’ maternity leave at full pay as well as 12 days per year leave for fertility treatment.

HSBC’s announcement comes ahead of this April’s change to the working tax credit, which will obligate all couples to increase their working hours from 16 to 24 – with one parent working at least 16 hours – in order to qualify.

The Working Families charity called on the government to reverse its forthcoming amendment, warning that businesses could not offer the additional hours required.

Only 17 per cent of employers surveyed by the work-life organisation said that they would be able to accommodate a staff request for an extra eight hours’ work per week.

Working Families chief executive Sarah Jackson said that many families would lose their working tax credit and “parents will find that it is no longer worth staying in work.”
Source: People Management 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sexual equality: Get serious or face the consequences

A new Bill has been tabled in the House of Representatives which aims to strengthen the compliance and enforcement powers of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA), and if the Bill is passed non-compliant organisations could be publicly ‘named and shamed’ as well as face financial consequences by being ineligible to trade with the government or to receive grants or financial assistance.

The Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 (Cth) (Bill) comes at a time when businesses are starting to take gender equality seriously and be more proactive in knocking down barriers to women advancing in leadership. In the past year diversity has been a talking point in boardrooms and businesses nationally, and it is timely that the legislation giving effect to the changes to EOWA has been introduced to Parliament alongside International Women’s Day (8 March).

Currently, organisations with 100 or more employees are required to make themselves known to EOWA and, unless exempt, to submit annual reports. However, the effectiveness of this regime has historically been restricted by EOWA’s limited enforcement and compliance powers.

It is estimated that up to a third of organisations that are required to report to EOWA have failed to identify themselves to EOWA. That the bill could be passed is a firm possibility, and employment lawyer Stephanie Nicol from Gadens advised large organisations to audit their compliance with the legislation.

Indeed the Bill changes the reporting obligations of organisations considerably. If the Bill is passed as it currently reads, reporting organisations will need to provide information on gender equality indicators, including:

  • the gender composition of the workforce and board
  • equal remuneration between women and men
  • the availability and utility of flexible working arrangements
  • evidence of consultation with employees on gender equality issues
Nicol said the Bill would raise gender equality issues to executive level because a new requirement would mean CEOs must sign off on the accuracy of reports. Additionally, the information provided in annual reports would also be used by the new agency to develop industry benchmarks.

While the Bill will not affect the 2011-12 reporting year, if it is passed it will have ramifications for the reporting year commencing on 1 April 2012. “It is imperative that organisations are aware of their obligations,” Nicol said.

Source: HC mag

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to give your kids healthy meals on a limited budget


We all know the importance of giving your kids healthy

...meals that are part of a greater nutrient-rich well-balanced diet. As many a parenting manual and nutritionist will attest, a good diet is essential for physical and cognitive development and healthy immune systems. Instilling good dietary habits from a young age also means that your kids are more likely to have a healthy attitude towards food in adult life.

This is all well and good but eating well is not necessarily conducive to spending little. Supermarkets don't make things easy as junk food, fatty snacks and pre-packaged ready meals are all markedly cheaper than say, organic fruit and vegetables.

Plus, what child would really choose to eat salad with their meal as opposed to fries, without putting up a fight? Certainly not my child! Convincing kids to eat healthy meals is a hard task for any parent so even if you've pulled off a healthy weekly shop within budget, it doesn't necessarily mean your kids will go for it.

There are a few things you can do though. Here's a few tips for getting your kids to eat healthy meals without breaking the bank.

Healthy Meal Planning

  • It may seem obvious but the first rule for a good food budget is planning. If possible, evaluate what you spend on food on average on a weekly basis so you're able to work out what you can cut down on or exchange for a healthier option. Then, work on planning each meal including lunches so you only buy the necessary ingredients.
  • Check the weekend newspapers for supermarket discount coupons. Always check out the special offers sections in stores as well, though be careful not to get carried away (as I often have) and end up overspending. Buy supermarket own brands wherever possible.
  • If you're kids are fussy about eating fruit and vegetables, don't be afraid to use trickery and disguise them! Blended soups, pasta sauces and fruit smoothies are all effective ways to get those nutrients into them.
  • Find out what fruits and vegetables are in season for your area and choose healthy meal recipes accordingly. If you're feeling super-organised, start a family recipe book with recipes grouped by season so you have a ready-made cookery guide for next year.
  • Invest in some good sturdy storage containers and buy certain foods (e.g. pasta, oats, rice, cereals) in bulk. This will work out much cheaper in the long term.
  • Consider growing your own vegetables. If you have the time cultivating a vegetable patch can be rewarding both for your wallet, the environment and your kids who will learn about nature in the process.
  • Then sometimes when all this virtue gets too much work, I think it is more important to have quality dinner time with the kids rather than running around soaking chickpeas! Ordering in can really save the day, I use this chance for the kids to try something different like Vietnamese or Japanese: both of which are reasonably priced and have plenty of healthy options.

By Kate Bloomsbury from Delivery Hero
Source: Single Mum

Monday, March 5, 2012

Life a Work in Progress

Could you ditch the 30-hour week?

Carleen Frost speaks to three workers who have managed to adapt their job to better manage the demands of family and the office.

Elysha Stephens is a consultant who runs her business part-time from her Central Coast home.

"After Max was born four years ago I had to think about how I would continue with work. With more than 10 years' experience in marketing and communications across a range of industries including IT, development and hospitality, I felt I had some options.
But I also had a very clear picture of how much work I could take on and how I could fit that with my family. I felt I only wanted to start off with one day a week.
I'm in a good position in that I don't need to work so I had the luxury of time to consider the options and spent quite a few months looking for jobs and opportunities that would suit me.
One of the avenues which proved to be really helpful was signing up to CareerMums and mums@work newsletters.
Via those websites, I found a job one day a week asking for someone with exactly my skills and mentioned a work from home arrangement.
I got that job, which started off my freelance career."

Michael Ryan is a lawyer with Corrs Chambers Westgarth in the Sydney CBD. He works four days a week and spends Mondays at home looking after his children.

"With two kids, a one-year-old and a five-year-old, we wanted to sort out a flexible working arrangement to suit our family.
My wife already worked from home and I'm a commercial lawyer in the litigation section.
So now I have Mondays at home and it just gives me that much more time to be with them and help my wife with all the housework.
Having that extra day with the kids is great - just to have that relationship with them, to be more involved with their childhood is important to me.
My daughter started school this year and it meant so much that I was able to take the time to take her to school on her first day.
The flexibility of my job means that even though I don't work on a Monday, if there's something I need to do, I can make arrangements to switch days.
And even from home, it's very easy for me to log on to the work system from our computer; it's just like I'm at my desk in the office.
Of course, our business demands that we are focused on serving our clients but I have found the clients have been very understanding about this arrangement.
I really appreciate that I was offered the opportunity to work this way and it seems to be happening in a lot of places. I certainly think it's a good thing and, where it's possible, more people should take it up."

Tracey Lentell is the general manager of Moorebank Sports Club. Her son Hunter is nine months old.

"I am the boss and report to a board of directors. They are seven guys but they understand that I have been able to create a culture in our workplace that can fit the demands of being a new mum.
In the past 4.5 years that I have been there, I have made the workplace family friendly.
I went back to work when Hunter was six weeks old, initially from home and then part-time at the office until he was three months old. I was back on deck full-time after that and it suits me really well.
Often I will go into the office on a Saturday which allows me to have Monday off and mind the baby while his dad goes to work.
The flexibility of our office culture also means if I need to work from home, I can.
I will also bring Hunter into the club if there is no other option and he takes little naps in the boardroom but I don't like to do that a lot.
All of this flexibility is awesome and I only need to put him in childcare three days a week.
My girls in the office will go above and beyond for me because I will allow them freedom.
They are happy that I let them do the things that make their life easier."

Source: Daily Telegraph, saturday, march 3, 2012

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baby (tick). Career (tick). How to have both


Get smart about your maternity leave rights, childcare options and balancing work and a family with these tips from author Allison Tait

When you’re pregnant and focused entirely on your changing body and the mind-blowing experience that is feeling a baby grow inside you, it’s often hard to imagine life “on the other side”. We know to expect sleepless nights and nappies, and that things will change. But how will work fit in? Even if you’re taking your full quota of maternity leave, chances are you’ll need or want to go back at some point. How will that work for you?

Juggling the demands of children and work can be a rollercoaster for new working mums. But if you start planning and preparing for it as early as possible (even while you’re pregnant), you can create a much smoother ride for you and your family.

Know Your Rights
In January 2010, the Australian Federal Government introduced the right for parents with children under school age to request a flexible work arrangement. If you put in writing a request for a change to your working hours, patterns of work or location, your employer has 21 days to respond – and if they refuse, they must outline “reasonable business grounds” for the refusal. Examples of these could include the financial impact on the employer’s business, or the inability to organise work among existing staff or to recruit a part-time replacement employee. (You’ll find full details, as well as steps you can take if you get a refusal, at fairwork.gov.au).

This sounds great in theory, but can be more difficult in practice. How do you ask? What do you ask for? (Remember that flexible working arrangements cover anything from reduced hours to working from home or changing your start and finish times). And what can you say to give yourself the best possible chance of your employer granting your request?

Emma Walsh, founder of mums@work (www.mumsatwork.com.au), believes it’s all in the planning and preparation. “They key to success is to put the work in upfront,” she says. “You need to propose a solution to how your flexible working arrangement will work, and not expect your employer to work it out for you.”

This means reviewing your job, working out your core responsibilities and thinking about how you can meet the requirements of the job while maintaining your own interest in it. Consider available technology so you can work remotely, or job sharing with someone else. “Think outside the square about how you could do it differently,” says Walsh. Once you’ve done that, put a business plan together. Show your employer exactly what you are proposing, with clear bottom-line reasons about why it won’t be a bad thing for him or her.

“Have different scenarios and information in front of you when you speak to your boss or manager,” says Penny Webb, founder of Working Mums Masterclass (www.workingmumsmasterclass.com.au). “Be upfront about your own value to the company.” Communicate that you have a legitimate right to work flexibly, outline how your role will function with your proposed flexible work arrangement, and be proactive in showing how it will work. It’s important to reinforce your skills and attributes, as well as any key goals you’ve achieved.

It’s also a great idea to offer a three-month trial period to state how you intend to measure the success of your new working arrangement.

If you work for a small business, it’s important to plan ahead and speak to your manager or employer as soon as possible – allow yourself and your workplace the chance to get used to your pregnancy and then, about two months before you go on parental leave, start the conversation with your manager. Plan for different scenarios and be prepared to think laterally.

The best-laid plans
Walsh recommends preparing a trial period for flexible working arrangements. “Don’t try to set up something that’s carved in stone,” she says. “The reality is that things will change – children grow up, your needs fluctuate and childcare arrangements change accordingly.”

Lisa, 45, understands that when it comes to being a parent and having a career, things change. Working in middle management for a large bank, with her career on the fast track, she unexpectedly fell pregnant with her first child, Will, now 11. “I told work I’d be back in three months,” she says. “I was climbing the ladder and didn’t want the baby to get in the way of my career... Then I had the baby, and I couldn’t leave him.”

She extended her maternity leave to 12 months, after initially trying to do some work from home. “Even after that, it wasn’t working,” she says. “So I resigned.” After the birth of her second baby, Rafe, now 8, three years later, Lisa got back in touch with her manager. “I approached them about returning to work,” she says. “They had a position vacant and I went back. I think the key was the good relationship I had with them. It was about asking, being capable, knowing my worth and maintaining contacts and networks.”

While it’s tempting to treat your maternity leave as a total break from work, the key to eventually transitioning back into the workforce, be it after 12 months maternity leave or longer, is staying in touch. Keep yourself on email lists so you are constantly updated on what’s going on, visit the office – or at least have coffee with colleagues on a semi-regular basis – keep up to date with your contacts, attend industry nights or work drinks occasionally. “I always kept my connections while I was on maternity leave,” says Lisa. “Not always through management, but with colleagues.”

If, like Lisa, you find yourself on maternity leave feeling completely different about returning to work – either full-time, or part-time – make sure you let your employer know as soon as possible (and no later than four weeks before your intended return date).

“Don’t mull it over forever,” says Webb. “Be upfront and honest. It gives you, and them, more time to come up with a solution.”

If, after you’ve had your baby, you change your mind about returning to work full-time and wish to request some flexibility with your position, remember that preparation is vital during those maternity leave months. And if your employer indicates that your role is full-time only, it’s better to know sooner rather than later so you can consider all of your options. These include speaking to your HR department, if your company has one, along with utilising all of your networks to find a role that does suit you and your baby.

Remember, though, that the best flexible jobs are created, not advertised. Start thinking ahead about how to fashion your ideal job out of the role you now have.

Your maternity-leave entitlements
The Paid Parental Leave scheme introduced by the Australian Government provides up to 18 weeks pay at the national minimum wage ($589.40 a week before tax), for working parents of children born or adopted after January 1, 2011. It can be received before, after, or at the same time as existing entitlements such as annual leave, long-service leave or employer-funded paid parental leave.

Contact your HR Department or manager for details of your organisation’s parental leave entitlements.

You must give written notice to your employer at least 10 weeks before you intend to start parental leave and tell them the start and end dates. Employers have the right to request evidence, such as a medical certificate or statutory declaration, of the expected date of birth or date of adoption.

All employees are eligible for unpaid parental leave if they have completed at least 12 months continuous service. Upon returning to work, an employee is entitled to her pre-parental leave position or an equivalent available position. If your company offers its own paid parental leave, check whether there is a contracted period of time for which you must stay with the company on your return.

If you intend to have another child, the same rules apply with Government parental leave, but check with your HR Department regarding when you will be eligible again for employer-funded parental leave. For more information, visit fairwork.gov.au.

Thinking Ahead
Kim, 35, was working for a small, family-run real-estate agency when she became pregnant with her second child, Charlie, now two. “I was a casual, even though I worked full-time, and so had no company-funded maternity leave owing,” she says.

“When I found out I was pregnant, I began to shift my role away from holiday property management towards something I could do from home. They were building a new website, so I took on the project management of that. My background was in marketing, so it was a natural progression for me.”

By shifting her role, Kim set herself up to be able to continue to work from home once her son was born. “Within a week of having Charlie, I was working a few hours a week from home, and then built it up from there,” she says.

When she initially broached the subject with her employer, they were hesitant. “It wasn’t something they’d ever done before,” she says. “But I showed them how it could work and they were happy with what I’d done to that point, so they thought about it and agreed. If I hadn’t brought it up with them, it would never have happened.”


Returning mums offered on-site childcare

A Melbourne company has proven just how far it is willing to go when it comes to retaining returning parents in their workforce – it built its own $5m on-site childcare centre.

Keeping women on staff after they return from having children can be a challenge – childcare costs can be as high as $135 per day. When medical supplies company CSL found their retention rates for returning parents were less than 50%, it took drastic action and decided to build a childcare facility on its own premises.

“We invest in them when they work for us, and we want to have the benefit of their training and education. We don't want to have the disruption to the traditional female career that often happens. So this is our way of I think trying to address that,” Brian McNamee from CSL said.

While $5m is a hefty investment, and most HR teams won’t have the option of building a child-care centre as some universities, law firms and schools have been able to do, there are other strategies HR can leverage to drive better retention rates among returning mothers.

Law firm Freehills put together a checklist on navigating parental leave, and from the time the parental leave notice is received employers may:

  • Check employees eligibility for leave against the company’s parental leave policy and flexible work policy (if any). Will the employee have been continuously employed with the company for 12 months prior to the birth of the child in either a full-time, part-time, or long-term-casual role?
  • Meet with the pregnant employee and discuss their leave plans. Make sure the employee is aware of formal notice requirements.
  • Check if the employee wants to keep the pregnancy confidential or is happy for it to be more generally known.
  • Discuss and make any work adjustments needed to ensure health and safety during pregnancy.
  • Complete a performance review of the employee before they take parental leave, to assist with salary reviews during the leave and avoid discrimination risks.
  • Ten weeks before leave, check the employee has provided written notice of her intention to start parental leave, including start and end dates.
  • Four weeks before leave, check the employee has confirmed the intended dates in writing.
  • Arrange a time to meet with the employee to plan the upcoming leave and to discuss how you’ll stay in touch.
  • Notify any replacement employee that their employment is temporary and that the pregnant employee has the right to return to their position.
  • Maintain contact with the employee, as agreed, for the duration of the leave.
  • At least four weeks before the employee’s return to work, check in with the employee about their plans to return to work.
  • Ensure you get in contact with the employee if there are any significant changes to the business or the employee’s job eg a restructure or redundancy.
  • If the employee makes a request for extended leave, respond in writing within 21 days.
  • Provide the employee with their pre-parental leave role on return from parental leave, or if that position is no longer exists, an available position for which they are qualified and suited.
  • Consider what assistance or facilities you can provide to the employee to help them settle back into their work role after a period of extended leave eg. computer skills training, facilities to express milk etc.
 Source: HC mag

Published By www.mumsatwork.com.au