Shared care is a key foundation of gender equality, both at home and at work. When men are enabled to work flexibly and take time off as equal parents, women can go confidently return to work and continue their careers. Fathers taking parental leave and working flexibly allows them to share the domestic load more easily, reducing the disproportionate burden on women.
In same-sex relationships, there may not be entrenched gender roles to overcome, but sharing the care has the same impact of enabling both parents to be present and active in their children’s lives while continuing their careers.
The caring burden that falls on women extends beyond caring for young children. Caring for elderly or disabled family members is more commonly done by women, and support for shared care enables men to contribute meaningfully to this care. Additionally, there are many domestic tasks that are associated with care work such as cooking and cleaning. 70% of that domestic labour is done by women, and shared care policies enable that work to be more evenly split.
Put their money where their mouth is
It’s easy(ish) to talk about encouraging shared care, but plenty of companies still use the outdated approach of giving women primary carer’s leave and men secondary carers’ leave. Additionally, according to a study in The Australian, only 46% of employers offer any paid secondary carers leave at all, and if they do the average is only two weeks. That’s not enough time to bond with a baby, and even more importantly, it’s not enough time to shift systemic gender imbalances. But our Endorsed Employers are putting their money where their mouth is, with progressive, best practice policies.
We spoke to 12 of our Endorsed Employers about their policies supporting shared care, and what their employees have to say about it. Below you can find out who’s doing what when it comes to gender neutral policies, superannuation continuation, caring beyond children, support for loss, and additional leave and benefits.
Who we spoke with
The companies we spoke to with strong policies supporting parents at work, shared care and ensuring women are empowered to progress at work are (in alphabetical order):
Bain & Co, Catch, CGI, Cummins, EY, F5, Multiplex, PA Consulting, Paddle, Telegraph Media Group, and Transgrid.
To find out more about all of their employee benefits click the link on the company name. Or keep reading to find out the ways they support shared care and parents at work.
Generous gender-neutral parental leave policies
Shared care is exactly what it says on the label – both parents share the caring duties alongside other domestic duties. It’s been shown that a key contributor to sharing care is having equal access to parental leave, and the removal of stigma around men taking extended leave to care for children.
Our Endorsed Employers are on the front-foot of gender-neutral policies, enabling both parents to take parental leave, and often for an extended period, well beyond legislated minimums.
Telegraph Media Group (TMG) offers new parents, of any gender, 26 weeks full pay for parental leave. 155 staff members have taken advantage of the scheme since it launched in January 2019.
“TMG was one of the first companies in the UK to offer staff Equal Parental Pay. We recognize that working parents and carers, who make up a large proportion of our talent, can find it difficult to juggle the demands of work and family. By putting strong family-friendly support in place, we hope to demonstrate our commitment to shaping a workplace fit for an evolving workforce.”
– Sarah Lambley (she/her), Head of Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, Telegraph Media Group
Cummins supports parents by allowing any parent to take the role of ‘primary’ carer, while the other parent is offered two weeks at base pay, on top of the legislative requirement.
F5 offers parents 16 weeks of gender-neutral parental leave.
At Transgrid, they are passionate about striving for gender equality. Julie Moss (she/her), Diversity Inclusion & Wellbeing Manager shares the impact of gender-neutral policies,
“Only when companies provide care leave options for both men and women equally does it result in raised organizational standards for women. Having policies is not enough however, and the proof is in the pudding. At Transgrid, 45% of those accessing primary care options in 2021 were men.”
CGI offers 16 weeks paid parental leave to all employees, including all genders and adoptive parents.
At Paddle, there is gender-neutral family leave of 17 weeks, along with unlimited, paid time off for prenatal, medical or adoption appointments for parents.
Multiplex provides 18 weeks paid parental leave for primary carers, available to Mums and Dads at any point in the first two years, and two weeks for secondary carers.
“We recognize the importance of parenting as a shared responsibility and want to support both partners in spending quality time with their children in their early years. Therefore, through our Shared Parental Leave policy fathers and partners, like mothers, can receive up to 20 weeks’ leave on full pay. Our parental leave policy is also available to adoptive parents.”
– Dale Graham (He/Him), Inclusion and Diversity Lead, PA Consulting
Ernst & Young Australia (“EY Australia”) has a strong Family Leave Policy offering 18 weeks paid leave available to all parents and carers, regardless of gender. There is no waiting period to access paid leave entitlements and they offer flexibility in how to take parental leave.
At Catch, they offer 14 weeks of primary carer’s leave, requiring only six months of employment to be eligible. Non-primary carers receive two weeks leave that can be taken at any time within 12 months after the birth/placement of the child. If a non-primary carer decides to take on the primary care role, they can access the full 14 weeks of leave. Catch also offers flexible unpaid parental leave to support family needs, and two days of unpaid pre-adoption leave.
Bain & Co offer 16 weeks paid parental leave including for adopting parents, along with special parental leave for illness during pregnancy.
Bain & Co Partner, Alpha Gould (she/her) shares her story,
“My partner, Marc and I have two small children and we both work at Bain. We share the parenting responsibility and have both taken time off on parental leave to be full-time carers. We manage the day-to-day, week-to-week juggle as a team and are constantly in dialogue about who will do drop-off, pick-up etc.
Bain is incredibly supportive and provides a lot of flexibility so that we can manage our work around our family life.”
The fastest growing demographic of homeless people is women over the age of 55. That is driven in part by the wage gap resulting in much lower retirement savings for women, and in particular the superannuation gender gap. Women retire with approximately 42% of the super that men do, and some of that gap is driven by having no superannuation payments when they pause their careers to care for children. Now, progressive companies are paying full superannuation on paid parental leave, and some are even paying it on unpaid parental leave.
At EY, they pay superannuation on paid and unpaid leave for a total period of up to 12 months. At Bain & Co and Transgrid, superannuation is paid on both paid and unpaid periods of Parental Leave.
Multiplex is another company that makes superannuation payments for unpaid leave for up to 12 months. Kirstin Llora (she/her), their Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant at Multiplex highlights,
“With the gender pay gap a significant contributor to gender disparity in the workplace, we believe providing ongoing superannuation payments during periods of parental leave is important. Our policy is just one of the ways Multiplex is seeking to close the gender pay gap, and support women to have long and successful careers in construction.”
Beyond caring for children
Caring duties extend beyond caring for small children. Many people spend time and energy caring for the elderly or disabled family members. There’s even a term for the generation of people simultaneously caring for children and elderly parents – the sandwich generation. Carer’s leave is most effective when it supports people caring in capacities other than as parents.
Cummins offer purchased leave and flexibility of working hours and location to all their people, regardless of their life stage or who they are caring for.
Bronwyn Elverd (she/her), Senior Employee Benefits Specialist at Cummins shares why these policies mean so much to her,
“In 2021 my 71-year-old father was diagnosed with aggressive lung cancer and needed daily care. At the time, I was based in Melbourne, Australia and my father lived in Perth, Australia. I submitted a request to permanently relocate, and Cummins fully supported my need to be available to care for my father.”
“Cummins has also been flexible with my distribution of work hours so I can accompany him to treatment and appointments that he would struggle to attend by himself. He has recently been diagnosed with multiple secondary brain tumours and has lost the use of his left arm which has made Cummins willingness to be accommodating with my ongoing caring responsibilities invaluable.”
Catch is a very caring and compassionate organization and I received extensive support from the team not just in terms of flexible working and compassionate leave, but I was also able to be with my family in India and support my father, which I was extremely grateful for. My manager also continued to check on my well being along with my team which I really valued a lot.”
– Archana Singh (she/her), Talent Acquisition Partner, Catch
Support for losses
Early term miscarriage or birthing a stillborn baby is devastating, and more companies are realizing that parents in this position need ongoing support. We interviewed Samantha Payne from the Pink Elephant Foundation on our podcast Equality Talks about how companies can support those experiencing this unique type of loss. Some of our Endorsed Employers recognize how important this support is, and have policies to demonstrate that.
At Transgrid there are stillbirth provisions for both parents, and EY have leave entitlements for early pregnancy loss.
CGI offer the same parental leave of 16 weeks in the unfortunate event of a miscarriage or still birth.
At Bain & Co, employees who have experienced miscarriage are able to access five days of compassionate leave, and those dealing with the terrible grief of a stillborn child after the 20th week of pregnancy can access the full Parental Leave provisions.
Additional leave and benefits
The flexibility and support required to manage a family after the first year of having a baby are critical in enabling parents to succeed at work. Flexible work provisions are also invaluable in enabling shared care. Our Endorsed Employers have a range of support, benefits and entitlements in place to support parents, families and all workers.
Telegraph Media Group offers an Emergency Back-Up Care policy, providing four free days of emergency back-up care for working parents and carers.
Transgrid provides coaching for employees returning to work after any period of parental leave. They also offer subsidised vacation care costs for parents of school age children. In addition, they have well-embedded flexibility options and hybrid working for all employees.
F5 offer four bonus leave days every year above the statutory requirement that their employees can use for personal, sick or carer’s days. They also offer a Private Health insurance subsidy to keep their staff healthy.
Lauren Solly (she/her), Senior HR Business Partner found this additional leave helpful when she got COVID.
“On contracting COVID-19, F5 granted me separate ‘COVID Leave’ so as not to use up my personal leave. This ended up being highly valuable as I then needed to care for a family member who got COVID, and I was able to use my bonus four days of carers leave that F5 offer on top of my personal leave balance. Thanks F5!”
Multiplex offer individual transition coaching for all parents taking leave, to set them up for success when they return to work.
PA Consulting encourage their people to ask for what they need and are willing to explore flexible working arrangements that suit each individual. They also have an Ad Hoc Flex policy that enables staff to meet unplanned personal commitments, such as collecting children from school while completing work at another time with no impact upon pay and benefits. PA Consulting also offer Holiday Flex, where employees can purchase additional annual paid holiday allowance and an option to take up to 30 days of unpaid leave to support caring needs or to otherwise spend dedicated time with children or dependents.
CGI encourages flexible working arrangements including part time and compressed weeks and have recent cases of men and women working part time to balance family commitments.
We recognize the challenges of working whilst being a parent and host regular activities and events through our health and wellbeing program, to support our parents in the workforce such as workshops on parenting skills and juggling working from home with kids.”
– Stephanie Calvert (she/her), Talent Acquisition Lead, CGI
EY has leave entitlements for fertility treatment and grandparents. Laura Grant (she/her), DEI Talent Attraction & Acquisition Lead at EY explains that equality and inclusion is critical for supporting their people.
“EY Australia’s people-related policies are focused on continuing to advance equity and build a resilient, inclusive EY. EY Australia is committed to supporting our people through their careers and various life events.”
Bain & Co offers employee benefits including health, life insurance and salary continuance.
When parents return to work at Paddle, there are flexible work options, and personal leave is encouraged to manage caring duties.
Gary McGrath (he/him), Paddle’s Head of Success Operations shared the story of becoming a father.
“2020 was uniquely the best and worst time in my life. We welcomed Liam, my son into the world, and the next day we found ourselves heading home on the first day of lockdown. My wife needed around six weeks to recover before she was even able to get out of bed. Paddle was extremely flexible and rather than taking a straight four months off, which would not have worked well for my wife, who was trying to return to work part-time,
I was able to split my paternity leave into three-day working weeks, which let my wife return to work gradually and not get overwhelmed. I cannot thank Paddle enough for the support they’ve shown me through this time, they let me fit my work around my hectic life, rather than expecting work to come first.”