Barriers to career mums

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Careermum’s Kate Sykes writes:

Dear Ms Gillard,

This is a letter from 335 working mums from around Australia including Canberra.

Recent changes to the National Employment Standards letting parents request flexible work arrangements and take 24 months parental leave, have been welcome news for most of us working parents around the country.

However, Federal Government support to help parents get back to work is still short of the mark.

According to a national survey of 335 working mothers aged between 25-50, conducted in August 2010, there are six key barriers stopping mothers from returning to work. These are:

  1. The rising cost of childcare
  2. Lack of flexible work options on offer from employers
  3. Lack of childcare centres/after-school care in high-demand areas
  4. The need for more-qualified and better-trained childcare workers
  5. Limited options to take extra (unpaid) holiday leave for parents of school-aged kids
  6. No sick leave entitlements for employees’ children

While the 50 per cent childcare rebate is appreciated, it is not keeping pace with inflation or rising childcare costs. The cost of child care in Canberra is becoming comparable with Sydney with fees ranging from $70-$110 per child per day.

Childcare fees have gone up over the past year for almost half of our respondents. And 60 per cent of respondents said the childcare rebate made no difference to their return-to-work plans. In fact, only 11 per cent stated that it had made a huge difference. Many of us feel that it would help greatly if the rebate was paid monthly.

The rising cost of care is forcing families to use a mix of childcare options to reduce the financial burden and more grandparents are taking on carer responsibilities and leaving the workforce earlier to do so.

Limited flexible work arrangements and lack of senior part-time roles are also big issues. While more needs to be done by companies in this area, Government needs to take the lead and promote job-sharing and flexibility in the workplace.

Many more mums want to work – but they need access to better conditions.


Kate Sykes

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