EnergyAustralia decided to revamp its parental leave policy adding to the growing list of companies supporting the campaign to pay super on parental leave. On the other hand, the Albanese government still needs to ‘find the headwind’ to take action. 

The energy company wanted to not only encourage men to take time off when they had a baby but also tackle the gender gap in superannuation. 

“We know that women retire with significantly less super than men, “EnergyAustralia’s people and culture executive, Jodie Haydon, said. “That’s due to the double penalty of time out of work while caring for children and then returning to work part-time.”

EnergyAustralia will now provide 20 weeks paid parental leave to new mothers and fathers with super paid on both paid and unpaid leave. 

And to narrow down the gender gap, employees who return to work part-time will be eligible for full contributions until their child turns five. 

The average woman who takes five years out of the workforce to raise children loses approximately $170,000 in superannuation and if she takes ten years out of the workforce she stands to lose a massive $400,000.

According to figures from the Australian Taxation Office, women’s median superannuation account balances are 20.5 per cent lower than those of men at retirement age.

Earlier this year, Really Simple Money launched the SupaWoman campaign to call for super to be paid on parental leave as well as a fairer super system and advice for young women about the importance of superannuation savings. 

Our campaign’s reach soared after only seven days and was supported by big companies and organisations such as KPMG, Future Generation, AustralianSuper, Industry Super Australia, Telstra, the ACTU, and Australian Retailers Association. 

Alison Kitchen, chair of KPMG, says: “A combination of greater levels of part-time work, employment in lower-paid industries, lower hourly rates of pay for women compared to men and less time in the paid workforce during their working years results in pronounced gender pay, income and superannuation gaps.

“While there are a range of reasons that contribute to unequal superannuation retirement balances between men and women, predominantly the leading factor is time out of the workforce to be the primary carer of young children.”

Government ‘wants to do it’

Despite the growing support from business leaders, the Albanese government is yet to take action on the call for paid parental leaves, which was a pledge Labor took to the 2019 election. 

In an article published by Brisbane Times, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the party couldn’t commit to everything it promised during the last campaign, but Labor left the door open to introducing the policy after the election. 

“There would not be a person in our government that doesn’t want to see super on paid parental leave. We want to do it. It’s just a matter of how we find headwind to do it,” Mr Albanese said. 

Newly appointed assistant treasurer and Minister for Financial Services, Stephen Jones said the party wants to make it happen but needs to get a good handle on the books first, to find out what the long-term structural deficit looks like and also where Labor can find potential savings that could fund other programs. 

Once that audit is completed, Mr Jones said there should be a more concrete timeline for the scheme.

“Whether we’re able to do it in the first term or not, should become pretty clear by the end of the year,” he said. “I want to see it happen, I do, that’s not a promise that we will. It’s all contingent on us being able to get the budget numbers right.”

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