What Does a Father-Friendly Workplace Look Like?

father-friendly workplace

Getting the work/life balance right is one of the biggest challenges for any modern father, and some workplaces are excelling at helping men try to achieve it.

Earlier this year Medibank Private was named the best workplace for fathers in Australia after it introduced a policy giving all employees – both males and females – 14 weeks paid parental leave within two years of their child’s birth.

The health insurer topped the list of father-friendly workplaces with the best-paid parental leave policy in research provided by CoreData and HBF website Direct Advice For Dads.

Other companies to perform best in creating more workplace friendly environments for new fathers were Mirvac, the ASX, Commonwealth Bank and PwC.

Medibank’s move was hailed as removing the distinction between a primary and secondary caregiver – typically thought of as a mother and a father, respectively – when it comes to paid parental leave.

“We wanted to improve the return and retention rate for all employees and change the corporate stereotype that caring for a child is considered ‘women’s work’,” said Medibank Private’s People and Culture Executive, Kylie Bishop.

The research also confirmed that Medibank Private is an anomaly, with less than one in three (30.2 per cent) of Australia’s top 500 companies offering new fathers at least two weeks of paid paternity leave. The average in large Australian companies sees new dads offered just 1.1 weeks of paid concurrent (secondary carer’s) leave, compared with an average of 11.5 weeks’ paid primary carer’s leave.

RELATED: New Paid Parental Leave Policy Offers Greater Flexibility

Moreover, just one in 10 companies (11.4 per cent) provides for a mother to “pass the baton” so that fathers can take on the role of primary carer if their partner returns to work within 12 months of the birth.

Other companies who performed well in creating a father-friendly workplace included Australian National University, Apple Australia, British American Tobacco Australasia, EY Australia, SAP Australia and the Curtin University of Technology.

Apart from the most obvious feature of an employer sensitive to the needs of fathers – comparable paid parental leave – here are ATYD’s top tips for identifying or helping create a father-friendly workplace:

  • A workplace that creates opportunities within the organisation for fathers to meet and talk about their experiences, for example, an informal morning tea in the week before Father’s Day or on Men’s Health Day.
  • An employer who targets and includes fathers in corporate communications to discuss issues pertinent to them, such as developing workplace policy around parenting (time off for the first day off school, etc).
  • Employers who embrace technology that facilitates better work/parenting balance – remote working solutions, teleconferencing, webinars, etc.
  • Employers with managers who actively encourage fathers to take parental leave, obviously supported by paid schemes like that introduced by Medibank Private. Research finds many men don’t take the parental leave they could or should due to the societal burden and expectation of being the “family breadwinner”.
  • Workplaces who view fatherhood as a “personal development” opportunity which can improve your all-around abilities, i.e. by developing your skills as a negotiator and problem solver (key daddy skills).

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