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Family-friendly workplaces boost work-life balance

Employees who work in family-friendly workplaces have better work-life balance and less stress according to a new survey.

The 2024 National Working Families Survey found that parents and carers who work for certified Family Friendly Workplaces reported fewer negative impacts and were more satisfied with their work-life balance. 

Family Friendly Workplaces aim to reduce the tension that exists between work and family by embedding and promoting policies and practices that genuinely support employees to thrive at work and at home.

Chief Advocate for Children at UNICEF Australia Nicole Breeze said work-life balance for parents was an ongoing challenge.

“Life as a parent is really hard when you’re worried that your job commitment is being questioned, or too drained to contribute to your family when you get home from work,” Ms Breeze said.

“We know that family friendly policies such as flexible work and parental leave are valuable for the wellbeing of working parents and their children, but we must make these more accepted and the norm in workplaces, for men and women. 

“It is good for gender equality, and by supporting the wellbeing of parents and carers we can safeguard the wellbeing of the children or loved ones in their care – to be happy, healthy and safe.”

Other key insights from the survey included the fact that certified workplaces are more accepting of men utilising entitlements.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of men were found to take less than one month of parental leave for their last child, while nearly all women (91 per cent) take longer than four months. 

The most common reason cited by men for taking too short a paid parental leave period was that they were not eligible for longer based on their employer’s policy, at 51 per cent.

The survey also found that 74 per cent of women felt stressed balancing work and family commitments, compared with 57 per cent of men – a marked increased from the 51 per cent of women and 34 per cent of men who reported feeling stressed in 2019.

CEO of The Parenthood Georgie Dent, said despite improvements, the survey findings highlight that there is still a long way to go to effectively support families in the workplace.

“Our policies must catch up to the realities faced by working parents, ensuring they don’t have to choose between their family and their career,” Ms Dent said.

“For parents, carers, and our children to truly thrive, we need one year of paid parental leave to be shared between parents at full pay, including super, and universal access to affordable early childhood education and care, delivered by a well-supported and properly paid workforce.”

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Rowan Crosby

Rowan Crosby is a senior journalist at Elite Agent specialising in finance and real estate.