The new policy includes six-months of paid parental leave for the primary carer, three months of paid leave for secondary carers, childcare assistance of up to $1,000 per month, per child, paid superannuation for the duration of leave and a school holiday program for just $20 a day.
Can we just pause for a moment right here and cast our eyes back to the line that reads ‘childcare assistance of up to $1,000 per month, per child‘? Because that is the equivalent of Christmas coming all year round for families of young children.
That is a clever and practical policy that will genuinely reduce the financial stress in the households of the eligible employees. (And also? My prediction is it will engender the kind of loyalty among employees that money cannot buy.)
These stories of organisations introducing generous and sophisticated policies to help families combine work and caring keep coming and we are not tiring of them. And until every parent in Australia has access to adequate parental leave, flexible employment and affordable, good quality early childhood education and care, we won’t.
“Few employers are doing enough,” the founding CEO of PEXA, Marcus Price, says. “There is some support from government programs, but it is simply not enough to take the pressure off working families. We want to create an environment where women and men can continue to successfully progress their careers while also enjoying time together as a family during those early formative months.”
To maintain a competitive advantage as a niche technology company, Price says it’s crucial the business supports millennials and structures the workplace to better suit them.
“Millennials are the best educated, most socially connected and dedicated participants in the workforce – they are our future and they deserve a purpose,” he said. “This generation won’t ‘fit in’ with outdated workplace models. They want their employers to drive change and help them to reach their potential. Taking time out of the workforce to start or support a family shouldn’t penalise workers.”
“Parental leave policies can be ‘make or break’ for career growth and for retention. This is absolutely necessary for us as a business, but we also genuinely want to take a leadership role in disrupting and re- setting this benchmark. We’re hoping other organisations will follow our lead and help create a better environment for working parents in Australia.”
For Fiona Tang, PEXA’s General Manager of Product Innovation, the childcare assistance is invaluable.
“We expected to share parenting duties 50/50, but my husband was only offered a few weeks away from work,” she says. “I was offered months of maternity leave and the flexibility to return on my own terms, so I became the primary carer by default.
“Now our children are in childcare and PEXA’s childcare subsidy means neither my husband nor I have to worry about whether the cost is worthwhile. It makes it easier for us to both get what we want out of parenting and our careers.”
Hannah McDowell, PEXA’s Marketing Manager, is the first parent in the organisation to use the new parental leave package. Her daughter Sophia was born in August 2019 but Hannah recognised the importance of employer support when she was planning her pregnancy.
Conversations with other friends thinking about starting families made her realise how stressful the financial reality of taking time off work to have a baby can be.
“On top of the 20 weeks paid parental leave, the additional six weeks of flexi-leave will help me transition back into the workplace at a pace that suits me, earlier than I had originally expected, meaning I have to take less unpaid leave and can remain financially independent throughout my leave.”
And, then, when she returns to work up to $1,000 in childcare for her daughter will be paid for by PEXA each month. That is a dream.