Revealed: The 20 Best Australian Workplaces for New Dads 2018

The roles of Australian parents are changing as dads seek out greater involvement in their children’s lives and push for a work/life balance that allows them to be equal caregivers.

Workplaces have a crucial role to play in the lives of new dads, and keeping pace with these shifting parenting roles is becoming essential to attract the best talent.

Those companies leading the way in Australia are innovating through both parental leave entitlements and flexible work practices that allow new dads and non-birth partners to balance their roles for the benefit of their families.

To shine a light on those companies and encourage more to follow their lead, Direct Advice For Dads has published the ’20 Best Australian Workplaces for New Dads 2018’, the first report of its kind in Australia.

Teaming with research consultancy CoreData, we analysed the policies of Australia’s largest 500 companies by revenue, according to IBISWorld, and worked with parenting and workplace experts to determine what benefits were most important for new dads.

To qualify for consideration companies had to offer a minimum of two weeks paid secondary carer’s leave, 12 weeks paid primary carer’s leave and flexible work practices. Importantly, primary carer’s leave had to be made available for a minimum of 12 months after the birth, allowing dads to avail of it should their partners return to work. We’ve called this ‘pass the baton’.

Once we applied the above criteria, a list of 44 eligible workplaces emerged.

From there, companies were ranked by their length of paid secondary carer’s leave, which was deemed the most important benefit for new dads. They were then judged on their length of paid primary carer’s leave, flexible work policies, leave uptake rates among dads, childcare, and parenting workshops to attain our final top 20.

1. Medibank

Medibank Office

Health insurer Medibank broke the mould in March when it announced its new FamilyFLEX policy, which offers 14 weeks leave to all new parents, regardless of whether they are the primary or secondary carer. The policy was designed to increase male uptake and attract new employees.

As Kylie Bishop, Group Executive of People and Culture, explained: “We wanted to improve the return and retention rate for all employees, and change the corporate stereotype that caring for a child is considered ‘women’s work’.

“A one-size fits all approach doesn’t stack up to the reality that all families and new babies are different. FamilyFLEX offers greater choice to new parents at Medibank regardless of gender.”

Parental leave can be taken at any time in the first two years of a child’s life at Medibank, and split across two periods. An important aspect of the policy is it makes men more comfortable when asking for parental leave and allows them an extended period at home either alongside their partner or as the stay-at-home carer. It is a policy unlike any other in Australia.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 14 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 14 weeks
  • Headquarters: Melbourne, VIC
  • Industry: Financial and Insurance Services
  • Number of employees: 2,355

Additional family-friendly practices

Medibank offers external coaching to all new parents before, during and after their parental leave. The company has set targets for employee engagement in flexible work, keeping leaders accountable for improving workplace flexibility and promoting these benefits to staff. Childcare referral services are offered at all of its locations.

2. Mirvac

Mirvac Office

Construction company Mirvac relaunched its ‘Shared Care Leave’ in December, and three dads have taken up the primary carer’s leave since. The real highlight at Mirvac, however, is its culture of flexibility.

After participating in a WGEA 2015 documentary series following five men trying to introduce more flexibility into their lives, Mirvac held workshops for male and female employees to discuss how flexible working could become “mainstream”.

“We used the videos internally and they certainly triggered much discussion and a desire for more men to work flexibly,” Head of Culture and Reputation Chris Akayan explained. “We also learned from our engagement survey that our people were looking for greater flexibility and those that had it were more engaged.”

The ‘My Simple Thing’ program was introduced, which encourages employees to start doing one thing through their working week that gives them more flexibility. Mr Akayan, for example, takes his 10-year-old son to breakfast at a café and then does school drop on Thursdays before he goes into work.

Since the introduction of Mirvac’s flexibility policy and ‘My Simple Thing’, there has been a cultural shift and 75 per cent of employees now report some form of flexibility arrangement at work.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 4 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 20 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Construction
  • Number of employees: 1,427

Additional family-friendly practices

Mirvac employees are supplied with everything they need to work flexibly, including laptops and Skype technology, with managers trained on how to manage a flexible work team. Leaders are held accountable for improving the company’s flexibility, with set targets for employee engagement in flexible work. The four weeks of secondary carer’s leave can be taken as a block or spread out.

3. Australian Securities Exchange

Australian Securities Exchange Office

The ASX sits in the top four because of its four-week secondary carer’s leave, but male uptake of paid primary carer’s leave is also exceptional, with 2.29 per cent of all male employees accessing the 16 weeks leave, compared to 3.14 per cent taking secondary carer’s leave.

“A number of male employees have taken primary carers leave to be stay-at-home dads, most commonly for three month periods,” Group Executive of Human Resources Lisa Green said.

“There are some examples of 12-month carers’ leave breaks and new fathers making short-term adjustments to hours or moving to part-time work.”

On top of its paid parental leave policy, the ASX offers paid keeping in touch days and a lump sum payment of superannuation for any unpaid portion of leave upon returning to work.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 4 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 16 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Financial and insurance services
  • Number of employees: 607

Additional family-friendly practices

An indication of its proactive approach to helping new dads is the parenting workshops it has implemented at all sites, and its Families@Work and Return to Work support programs.

The company’s flexibility policies are all gender neutral, with HR leaders actively encouraging new parents to consider their options and take advantage of the support available.

4. Commonwealth Bank

Commbank Office

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) – and its subsidiary Bankwest – round out the group offering four weeks’ secondary carer’s leave.

The largest company in the top 20 (by employees), CBA says it is working hard to increase uptake of primary carer’s leave among new dads. It’s most recent report to the WGEA stated 28 male staff had taken primary carer’s leave during the reporting period, compared to 650 male staff who availed of secondary carer’s leave.

“In order to normalise taking time off after the birth of a child, it’s important to create an environment where parents can effectively manage work and family responsibilities,” Head of Diversity and Inclusion Liz Griffin said. “We work closely with all employees who are taking parental leave to ensure a smooth transition.”

CBA also offers a $1500 return-to-work bonus for primary carers, and continued superannuation payments for the duration of the primary carer’s leave.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 4 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 12 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Financial and Insurance Services
  • Number of employees: 35,014

Additional family-friendly practices

Other initiatives include coaching for employees returning to work, parenting workshops targeting fathers, and internal support networks for dads. CBA offers on-site care and subsidies at some worksites, and referral services at all sites. Their annual ‘Your Voice’ people and culture survey looks at how flexibility can be improved to better accommodate parents.

5. PwC

PwC Office

PwC ranks highest among companies that offer three weeks’ secondary carer’s leave, primarily because of its excellent flexibility and uptake scores, jumping ahead of both Australian National University and British American Tobacco Australasia, who offer more generous primary carer’s leave policies.

The professional services firm allows male and female employees to access parental leave the day they start with the company. Paid primary carer’s leave is also provided flexibly to PwC employees, giving new fathers the option to take a few days over a longer period of time, or take their entitlement in one block.

Employee Jack Bell, who accessed the 18 weeks paid primary carer’s leave when he became a new dad, said the policy was well promoted through the company, which is a leader in its field.

“The first five people you speak to when you tell them you’re having a baby will always say ‘make sure you take the parental leave’,” Mr Bell said. “It’s not something that’s hidden in the fine print. It’s out there and it’s definitely encouraged at all levels.”

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 3 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 18 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Number of employees: 2,643

Additional family-friendly practices

PwC is one of only two companies in the top 20 that has set targets specifically for men’s engagement in flexible work, assisting new fathers to juggle work and family responsibilities. More than half of the PwC dads who take secondary carer’s leave go on to be the primary carer later in their child’s early life, reflecting a culture that encourages men to access the 18-week entitlement.

6. Australia National University

Australia National University

ANU announced its new policy in March, implementing changes that allow partners to access 26 weeks of paid primary carer’s leave at any time in the first 12 months of their child’s life. The University fast-tracked the implementation of the policy before its latest enterprise bargaining agreement to make it accessible before the agreement was signed.

While ANU offers the equal most generous primary carer’s leave policy in the top 20, driving its high position on the list, its lower flexibility scores saw it fall behind PwC. According to its report to the WGEA, the University has a policy on flexible working, but has yet to implement targets, promote the policy, or hold leaders accountable for the flexible working practices of staff.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 3 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 26 weeks
  • Headquarters: Canberra, ACT
  • Industry: Education and Training
  • Number of employees: 5,407

Additional family-friendly practices 

ANU is one of just six organisations in the top 20 to offer on-site childcare at some of its worksites. The University conducts a survey every two years to better understand and improve staff engagement, with a 2017 study finding new dads struggled to find work/life balance when their child was born, with half of the fathers surveyed working more than 44 hours a week.

7. British American Tobacco

British-American-Tobacco

Like ANU and competitor Imperial Tobacco, British American Tobacco Australasia leads the way by offering six months of paid primary carer’s leave and making that available to dads at any point in the first 12 months of their child’s life.

Three employees accessed the leave in 2017 and more are planning to in 2018, with employee Nicholas Booth availing of three months’ leave as his daughter approached her first birthday. “That was perfect for my situation,” Mr Booth said. “It is a generous support structure, both at the time of birth and thereafter.”

BATA Marketing HR Executive Eve Sartor said males in leadership positions regularly shared stories of being parents at fortnightly communications sessions, and it was a part of their employees’ lives that was celebrated.

“Having the opportunity to connect with your newborn child is a once in a lifetime opportunity, as you never get that time back. Our policy allows dads to make decisions for their family based on their personal situation.”

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 3 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 26 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Manufacturing
  • Number of employees: 368

Additional family-friendly practices

BATA allows fathers to adjust their work schedules at every stage of their children’s lives, not just within the first year. Formal and informal flexible arrangements exist to assist to help fathers meet commitments like school drop off/pickup, as well as the spontaneous commitments that arise in a child’s life.

8. EY

EY

EY recently updated its policy to allow dads to take parental leave on either a full-time or part-time basis, removing primary and secondary carer’s leave labels and making the ‘family leave’ policy gender neutral.

EY has seen male uptake of parental leave rise sharply over the past two years, with more than one in three new dads at the company taking all or part of the extended 14-week component.

Giving employees the opportunity to work part-time and extend their leave is a significant benefit, with EY senior legal counsel Scott Freeman recently taking advantage of the policy after his daughter was born, working three days a week and accessing his parental leave for the remaining two.

“My wife and I looked at a number of options and decided this was the best way forward for us,” Mr Freeman said. “Our concern was that we would be putting our child in full time day care. But with my wife returning to work four days a week and me taking part time parental leave, our daughter Poppy will only be in care two days a week.”

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 3 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 14 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Number of employees: 6,416

Additional family-friendly practices

EY’s flexible working policy and strategy includes keeping leaders accountable for improving workplace flexibility and making leaders visible role models of flexible working. An addition part of EY’s offering is the online tool ‘Grace Papers’ to help employees through their parenting journey with a section specifically for dads that looks to address issues from the father’s perspective. The firm also offers the Beyond Blue service ‘Dadvice’ to employees and has an internal mentoring program for expectant parents or new parents.

9. SAP Australia

SAP

SAP updated its parental leave policy in 2016 to allow new parents to access 17 weeks’ paid leave if they are the primary carer, and three weeks’ paid leave if they are the secondary carer. Like all companies in our top 20, the paid primary carer’s leave is accessible to dads at any point in at least the first 12 months of a child’s life.

“As a family-oriented company, SAP places great focus on promoting a healthy family-career balance,” Head of Human Resources, Australia and New Zealand, Debbie Rigger said.

“All of us juggle multiple roles in our lives, including being an employee, a partner, a child and a parent, (and) this requires work/life balance and flexibility. This is only possible in an environment of trust.”

SAP has the second highest uptake of male secondary carer leave in the top 20, with 5.5 per cent of the male workforce availing of it, however, primary carer’s leave uptake was relatively low.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 3 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 17 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Number of employees: 1,294

Additional family-friendly practices

Beyond its parental leave entitlements, SAP ensures leaders are visible role models of flexible working, and that flexible working is promoted through the organisation. SAP has both a policy and strategy to support employees with childcare responsibilities.

10. Curtin University

Curtin University Media Centre

One of two universities in the top 10, Curtin offers dads the opportunity to take their 14 weeks’ paid primary carer’s leave any way they like – in a single block, split over multiple periods, or as part of a part-time roster.

The University offers on-site childcare facilities at some of its worksites and childcare assistance in the first year of their child’s birth, also boasting impressive flexibility policies.

“We’ve had a particular focus on parental leave for the last half a dozen years, and we’ve had a childcare site on our Bentley Campus for the last decade,” People and Culture Director Ian Jackson said.

“Parents returning to work can access one hour a day for the first 12 months to spend with their kids if they are at our childcare centre, and it’s great to see new parents and grandparents using that time on campus.

“We see parental leave and flexibility in the workplace as a minimum condition of employment.”

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 3 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 14 weeks
  • Headquarters: Perth, WA
  • Industry: Education and Training
  • Number of employees: 7,394

Additional family-friendly practices

Employees have the technology to work from home, and senior men at the university with new kids set the example by taking advantage of the parental leave policies. The university says it is seeing an increase in men taking advantage of primary carers leave.

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11. Deloitte Australia

Deloitte allows dads to access primary carer’s leave flexibly, which has resulted in significantly more dads taking paid parental leave. The ‘Big Four’ accounting firm has also introduced numerous initiatives such as the ‘WorkAgility’ program, which seeks to drive cultural change in employees adopting flexible work arrangements to manage family commitments.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 18 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Number of employees: 5,994

Additional family-friendly practices

Deloitte is among a group of top 20 businesses that keep leaders accountable for flexible working, while also ensuring they are visible role models and communicate the policy through the organisation. They offer one-on-one coaching for both dads and mums to manage and plan for parental leave transitions, such as returning to work following parental leave.

12. Lendlease Group

Lendlease provides an excellent 18 weeks of primary carer’s leave to dads at full pay, combining that with progressive flexible work policies, subsidised childcare and competitive uptake.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 18 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Construction
  • Number of employees: 6,964

Additional family-friendly practices

Lendlease offers parenting workshops targeted specifically at fathers at all worksites and is one of only two companies in the top 20 to offer subsidised childcare at all worksites. In addition to its flexible working policy, leaders are accountable for improving workplace flexibility, are visible role models of the policy, and promote flexible working through the organisation.

13. Imperial Tobacco Australia

One of three companies in the top 20 offering six month’s paid primary carer’s leave, Imperial Tobacco Australia’s policy has been in place for nearly 15 years. The first dad to take advantage of the parental policy was in 2008 and he remains with the company to this day. Uptake was not high, however, during the last reporting period to the WGEA, which may be in part owing to their smaller workforce.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 26 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Manufacturing
  • Number of employees: 348

Additional family-friendly practices

The company has informal flexible working arrangements in place, and plans to have a global policy developed for flexible working in the future. It is also conscious of making all policies on parental leave gender neutral. Primary carers can take 26 weeks at full pay or opt for 12 months leave at half pay to spread the payments if desired.

14. CBUS

CBUS is the smallest company to make the top 20, with 274 employees, and it has among the highest uptake of primary carer’s leave for dads (2.84 per cent of all male employees, compared to 4.26 per cent taking secondary carer’s leave). CBUS requires employees to work for just six months before they can take parental leave, and the CEO has the authority to waive this requirement.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 16 weeks
  • Headquarters: Melbourne, VIC
  • Industry: Superannuation
  • Number of employees: 274

Additional family-friendly practices

CBUS is one of only six companies in the top 20 to have set targets for employees’ engagement in flexible work. Parenting workshops are available at all work sites, and leaders are both accountable for improving workplace flexibility and visible role models of the policy.

15. Stockland

Stockland ranks higher than companies with better primary carer’s leave offerings because of its consistency across flexible work, childcare facilities, and a high uptake of primary carer’s leave among new dads.

Stockland’s ‘Parental Flex’ option allows dads taking primary carer’s leave to access one of three options: two additional weeks paid leave, superannuation on the unpaid parental leave, or a $3,000 lump sum on return to work.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 16 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Real Estate Services
  • Number of employees: 1,572

Additional family-friendly practices

Stockland is one of only six companies in the top 20 to have set targets for employees’ engagement in flexible work. Leaders are accountable for improving workplace flexibility, are visible role models of flexible working, and are responsible for communicating the policy through the company.

The real estate company also offers ‘keeping in touch days’ for employees on parental leave while supporting new dads through advocacy groups and kids at work days.

16. Laing O’Rourke

Laing O’Rourke offers primary carer’s 18 weeks at full pay, an additional eight weeks at half pay and pays superannuation on the paid portion of leave. Primary carer’s leave can be taken within the first 15 months of the child’s birth, rather than 12, making it even more accessible to dads.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 22 weeks (equivalent)
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Construction
  • Number of employees: 2,605

Additional family-friendly practices

Laing O’Rourke offers coaching for employees on returning to work, as well as keeping in touch days for employees on parental leave.

17. American Express Australia

American Express allows primary carers to access paid primary carer’s leave within the first two years of a child’s birth, encouraging high uptake among male employees. Parents are eligible to receive superannuation payments of 10 per cent for both the paid and unpaid portion of their parental leave.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 13 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Financial and Insurance Services
  • Number of employees: 1752

Additional family-friendly practices

American Express offers an internal parents network, organising speakers to share their stories and provide parenting information. The company also conducts a ‘Pulse of the Parent’ survey to consult parents on key issues relating to working parents, returning to work and what additional support they could receive.

18. SEEK

Seek has the highest uptake of males taking primary carer leave relative to its male population (4.8 per cent), highlighting its commitment to supporting new dads. The company’s excellent uptake should be commended, with more dads taking up primary carer’s leave than secondary carer’s leave, according to the company’s latest WGEA report.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 14 weeks
  • Headquarters: Melbourne, VIC
  • Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
  • Number of employees: 775

Additional family-friendly practices

Seek provides coaching and mentoring services for new dads, not only to support dads during their journey into parenthood, but also when they return to work. Additionally, Seek provides managers with the tools required to support their team when returning from parental leave.

19. Allianz

In addition to providing 12 weeks paid primary carer’s leave which dads can access, Allianz offers an option of either two weeks’ extra paid leave or providing superannuation contributions during parental leave. Allianz also provides employees with two days family and emergency leave to assist
employees with the unforeseen family commitments and responsibilities that affect parents.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 12 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Financial and Insurance Services
  • Number of employees: 4,578

Additional family-friendly practices

Allianz is one of only two companies in the top 20 that have set targets specifically for men’s engagement in flexible work. Parenting workshops have been introduced targeted specifically at new dads, while leaders are visible role models and responsible for communicating the companies flexible work policy.

20. NAB

NAB made paid primary carer’s leave available to dads in 2015 and has been a leader in encouraging uptake ever since. According to NAB, 30 per cent of its employees taking primary carer’s leave are now male. NAB score consistently well across flexibility, childcare and uptake, but fall to the final available spot because of their 12-week offering.

  • Paid secondary carer’s leave: 2 weeks
  • Paid primary carer’s leave: 12 weeks
  • Headquarters: Sydney, NSW
  • Industry: Financial and Insurance Services
  • Number of employees: 29,560

Additional family-friendly practices

NAB is one of six companies in the top 20 to offer on-site childcare at some of its work sites. In addition, it is one of just two companies in the top 20 offering subsidised childcare at all work sites. NAB also makes superannuation contributions on the unpaid portion of primary carer’s leave of up to 40 weeks.


Where is your company?

Direct Advice for Dads and CoreData limited this year’s field to the largest 500 companies in Australia by revenue (according to IBISWorld), using 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. Where companies did not respond, we relied on publicly available data. The final data set used to compile the report was collected between April 9 and May 4, 2018. If you have a policy of note that you would like us to know about, or you would like to know how you could feature on this list for next year, please contact us.

Media enquiries: Alex Wilson on 0400 894 793 / Alex.Wilson@HBF.com.au

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