Parental Leave: Australia’s largest companies compete to be the best

The second annual study of paid parental leave polices in Australia shows big changes in the top 20 workplaces for new dads, and it’s part of a broader change benefiting families across the country.

top 20 analysis - companies compete

Once again, HBF’s Direct Advice for Dads enlisted the help of research agency CoreData to learn how Australian workplaces are supporting new dads.

The results are in and dads are the big winners. The second annual study of paid parental leave polices in Australia shows big changes in the top 20 workplaces for new dads.

One thing is abundantly clear. The largest employers in the country are embracing the idea of paid parental leave and it’s part of a broader change benefiting families across the country.

This year’s study showed a massive 50 per cent increase in the number of employers meeting the criteria for the list (66, up from 44) and aggressive movement from the 2018 rankings.

These changes happened across a number of industries as employers compete to attract top talent by providing family-friendly workplaces.


Shifting field of family-friendly employers

Nine companies entered the top 20 list for the first time in 2019, a dramatic 45 per cent change from last year.

Of the 11 returning companies, all but one dropped in rankings. While this may sound alarming, it shows a remarkable push for family-friendly and flexible working policies in Australia.


None of the companies on last year’s list reduced benefits –  some increased their offering – but they have been overtaken by new policies from companies looking to attract and retain the best talent.

One trend emerging in the 2019 data is great news for dads. The top five employers make no distinction between secondary carer’s and primary carer’s leave, up from only one in last year’s list. These employers are also offering the most generous paid parental leave policies, offering 12 weeks of paid parental leave – or more – to any employee with a new baby.


Gender-neutral policies good for new dads

Australian employers are serious about providing work-life balance to their employees. Another part of this trend is an effort to become more gender neutral in remuneration and provide opportunity for long-term career growth for mothers.

Research shows a correlation between providing paid parental leave for dads and closing the gender pay gap. Paid parental benefits for dads have the potential to transform gender inequality more broadly.

Company after company who participated in this research made note of the fact they were actively encouraging men to take paid parental leave, adopting flexible working plans, and modelling that behaviour across all levels of management.

Find out where is the best place for new dads to work in Australia.

Here’s how the rest of the data breaks down.


Paid parental leave on the rise

Secondary carer’s leave is the main benchmark considered for dad-friendly workplaces.

Secondary carer’s leave allows dads to be at home from the time of birth and fully participate in welcoming their new baby, including supporting the mother and providing care for all the children in the household. To qualify for the list, companies had to offer two weeks or more paid secondary carer’s leave and make the benefit available at the same time primary carer’s leave commences.



Key data about secondary carer’s leave

  • Overall, the average amount of secondary carer’s leave increased 20 per cent, to 6.6 days, up from 5.5 days in 2018.
  • The number of companies offering at least two weeks of secondary carer’s leave increased by 14.8 per cent.
  • More than a third, or 34.4 per cent, of Top 500 companies offer at least two weeks’ paid secondary carer’s leave in 2019.


Key data about primary carer’s leave

  • The average number of weeks of paid leave for primary carers has increased year on year by 1.6 per cent to 11.7 weeks, up from 11.5 weeks in 2018.
  • The number of companies offering at least two weeks of secondary carer’s leave along with 12 weeks of primary carer’s leave increased by 20.5 per cent. In 2019, 30.7 per cent of the top 500 companies meet this standard for dad-friendly workplaces.


Pass the baton

To qualify, employers also had to provide a ‘pass the baton’ policy for dads. ‘Pass the baton’ allows dads to take paid primary carer’s leave after their partner returns to work and within the first year of a child’s birth (or later).

This gives dads ample opportunity to form close bonds with their young children and fully support their household without creating financial hardship.


Key data about ‘pass the baton’ policies

  • The top companies in Australia offering ‘pass the baton’ increased by 26.9 per cent since 2018, the highest percentage increase in the study.
  • In 2019, 14.4 per cent of the top 500 companies support dads in becoming the primary carer when their partner returns to works, up from 11.4 per cent in 2018



Industry participation in parental leave policies

Nine diverse industries are represented in the 2019 best workplaces for new dads list, including mining, construction and manufacturing companies. Three industries had multiple entries:

  • 35 per cent – Finance and insurance
  • 25 per cent – Professional, scientific and technical services
  • 15 per cent – Education and training


The 20 companies on the list were all located in metropolitan areas, spread between four capital cities:

  • 11 in Sydney
  • 5 in Melbourne
  • 3 in Perth
  • 1 in Canberra


Where is your company?

Companies considered for the top 20 list were limited to the largest 500 companies in Australia by revenue (according to IBISWorld). The research conducted by CoreData, in partnership with HBF, used company reports to the WGEA, publicly available policies on parental leave, enterprise agreements, media reports, and direct communication with HR and PR departments to compile all data. The data was collected from 20 May to 25 June 2019.

If your company has a policy you think we should know about, or you would like to know how you could feature on this list for next year, please contact us.