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ACTU - Balancing Work and Family

August 3 2005 - The ACTU submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Balancing Work and Family chaired by Bronwyn Bishop claims that the Federal Government's plans for new workplace laws will make it harder for working parents.

The ACTU says that the Howard Government’s own research report shows its individual contracts (AWAs) are hostile to work and family balance

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

"Research shows 93% of employees in the private sector that are on individual contracts (AWAs) have no additional family-friendly rights for workers.

"A recent report by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations confirms this trend, showing that of all individual contracts:

  • Less than one in twelve (8%) provide paid maternity leave.
  • Only one in twenty (5%) provide paid paternity leave.
  • One in twenty-five people (4%) provide unpaid 'purchased' leave such as extra leave during school holidays.

"The Government research also showed that the people most likely to use any family leave are least likely to get any with 14% more men than women having access to any family leave arrangement in their individual contract.

"Working parents not only have less access to family leave if they are on individual contracts, they also have less time for family life because they are working longer hours. Research by the Employment Advocate found that around one in three (32%) people on individual contracts are working more hours than they did two years prior.

"Families are also under more financial pressure if they are paid by individual contracts. Government data shows that:

  • Penalty rates were lost in more than half (54%) of individual contracts
  • Annual leave was lost in more than one in three (34%) individual contracts; and
  • Sick leave was traded away in more than one in four (28%) individual contracts.

"Individual contracts are clearly hostile to family life. And they will only get worse when the Government abolishes the 'no disadvantage test' that benchmarks them against awards.

"The ACTU considers that there is no good news in the Government's workplace reforms for employees with caring and family responsibilities. In fact, they will only make it much tougher for working parents."


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