In light of the Government’s recent announcement on paid maternity leave, Social Researcher Mark McCrindle has released the latest results from the McCrindle Research study into Australians’ attitudes towards a national paid parental leave scheme.
McCrindle’s survey revealed that 74% of women are for paid paternity leave compared to only 57% of men. But it appears that Australians and men in particular, would have preferred the introduction of a paid maternity leave scheme to the paid parental leave scheme recently announced by the federal government. When asked about paid maternity leave, 78% of women are for paid maternity leave compared to 71% of men.
Discussion from the McCrindle focus groups indicated that employed women were typically in favour of paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers, while employed men were more likely to support paid maternity leave only or no form of paid parental leave at all.
Among those who did approve of the initiative, the majority believed that mothers should be entitled to anywhere between 6 and 12 months (57.5%) and fathers between 1 week and 1 month (54%).
Although 29% fear that such a scheme will discriminate against stay-at-home parents, 7 in 10 respondents are much more concerned that paid parental leave will ultimately equate to increased taxes.
“Both men and women in Australia agree that maternity leave is more important than paternity leave,” said Mark McCrindle.
“Two facts validate this consensus: Firstly, 71% of the child care duties are performed by the mother, and this is significantly higher when the children are aged under two. And secondly, new mums are older than ever, with an average age of 30.7 years, and so are more likely to be established in the workforce than ever before. Women aged 30-34 have the highest birth rate, and this is twice the birth rate of women aged 20-24,” he said.
Regardless of peoples’ individual beliefs on whether or not it is a viable policy, McCrindle’s national survey results show that Australians strongly believe the institution of a paid parental leave scheme would ultimately be in the best interests of babies (68%).
Australians who support paid parental leave believe that it should be funded solely by the Federal Government (52.5%) and 43% of Australians believe that access to such a scheme should be conditional on having spent a minimum of 12 months with their current employer.
The overwhelming majority of stay-at-home parents (81%) believe that the Federal Government should continue to provide stay-at-home parents with some form of funding, such as the baby bonus and family tax benefits.
So will the paid parental leave scheme lead to an increase in the birth rate?
According to the McCrindle survey, only 18% of Australians stated that paid parental leave would actively
encourage them to have children. This research showed that paid parental leave did not induce people to have children who otherwise wouldn’t. However, it did bring forward the decision or cement the decision of those who were planning on having a child.
“For the first two centuries of European settlement in Australia the birth rate was above replacement rates (two children per couple),” said Mark McCrindle. “In 1978 it fell below 2.0 for the first time and has been below this ever since. Australia has seen a massive ageing of the population since then, from a national average age of 29 in that year to 37 today.”
“Supporting the birth rate is key to managing Australia’s ageing population and ensuring both consumer demand and labour supply is robust over the next four decades of unprecedented ageing.”
McCrindle says though some Australians are of the opinion that having children is a choice (and one that we should each fund from our own income), others are interested in being part of a society that financially supports parents in raising their newborns.
With increasing societal pressures, work-life balance is becoming increasingly difficult to attain for working parents.
“Work-life balance is an expectation of today’s parents. Life in the 21st Century is increasingly complex with employees juggling multiple roles” said Mark McCrindle.
“People today don’t segment their life into “work” and “personal” categories but rather their different roles often morph and collide, and they expect some support to deal with these challenges”
Source: McCrindle Research – AustraliaSpeaks.com