WORK & FAMILY BALANCE

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1 ACTION AGENDA FOR WORK & FAMILY BALANCE NOVEMBER 2003

2 PREMIER S MESSAGE The Victorian Government supports a better balance between work and family for all Victorians and is working to help employers and employees achieve this goal. Almost half of all working Victorians are responsible for the care of family members. Two out of five employees have dependent children, and a third of all employees have children of preschool age. These employees are juggling work and family commitments every day. Businesses that do not help their employees manage their family responsibilities can suffer loss of productivity and even loss of skilled employees, resulting in increased staff turnover and associated training costs. The Victorian Government is assisting employers and employees achieve a better balance between work and family responsibilities so that businesses can improve their organisational performance and individuals can deal with the needs of their families. The result is higher performing workplaces, stronger families and more cohesive communities. CONTENTS Meeting the challenge - Leadership and vision 2 The changing nature of work and families 4 Getting the balance right 6 Agenda for action 1 Leading the way in work and family balance 8 Agenda for action 2 Supporting industry to adopt practices 10 that enhance work and family balance Agenda for action 3 Working in partnership with the community 14 on work and family issues Agenda for action 4 Demonstrating good practice in work and 16 family balance in Victorian public employment Moving forward on work and family balance 20 We are helping Victorians achieve a better balance between work and family responsibilities by: raising awareness of the issues across the community; providing practical assistance and support to both employers and employees; and ensuring Government policies and programs reinforce the pursuit of a better balance between work and family responsibilities. We have already provided return to work grants for parents re-entering the workforce after caring for children, and payroll tax exemptions for businesses that provide paid maternity and adoption leave. We have established a Children s Advisory Committee to advise the Government on how children s services can be better integrated to meet the needs of contemporary families, including those with working parents. However there is more to be done and the Government has developed this Action Agenda for Work and Family Balance. This outlines how we will address priority work and family balance issues that affect Victorians over the next two years. Together with industry, employers, unions and employees we will work towards creating an environment in which Victorians are able to live a more balanced life, and at the same time improve the productivity of Victorian businesses and industry. Steve Bracks MP Premier of Victoria

3 Today families are increasingly diverse. Fewer people are marrying, rates of separation are higher, women are delaying having children, there are more sole parents caring for dependent children, the population is ageing and there are more people living on their own. This means that many workers are now responsible for caring for children, as well as partners, parents, and other family members. We all feel the impact of changes to family structures and the workforce that have occurred over the past decade or so, and the tension that can arise between work and family life. Both men and women face dilemmas in juggling work and family life. For women, meeting work and family commitments often means interrupted periods of employment or casual and insecure jobs, which fail to provide for career and economic advancement. For men in full time employment, long and extended hours of work mean that they have less time to spend with their families. Smart businesses and industries are recognising the interconnection between work and family life and are taking action to alleviate the pressures faced by employees in meeting work and family commitments. Along with industry and unions, government also has a role to play in helping families and businesses achieve a better work and family balance. The Victorian Government has signed a Charter for Work and Family Balance detailed in our 2002 election policy Working for Women: Labor s plan for Victoria s women. We are delivering on the Charter s commitments by: providing return to work grants to parents wanting to return to the workforce after two years caring full time for children to assist meet the costs of training; funding pilot projects in industry which assist women and men to balance their work and family commitments and to extend successful initiatives to other businesses; advocating for sufficient federally funded childcare and outside school hours care places available to meet the needs of Victorian parents; working towards an integrated system of childcare and preschools aimed at ensuring maximum flexibility for working parents and helping school communities to establish out of school hours care and vacation programs; providing payroll tax exemptions to employers who provide paid maternity or adoption leave; and advocating for a federally funded national maternity leave scheme providing at least 14 weeks paid leave at the minimum adult wage. The Action Agenda for Work and Family Balance outlines actions to be taken by the Victorian Government over the next two years to: encourage a greater awareness of work and family balance issues; promote the adoption of family friendly work policies and practices in Victorian workplaces; and play a lead role in working with businesses, employees, unions and the community to encourage innovative policies and practices that help employees achieve a better balance between work and family life. MINISTERS MESSAGE Rob Hulls MP Minister for Industrial Relations Mary Delahunty MP Minister for Women s Affairs Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 1

4 2 MEETING THE CHALLENGE - LEADERSHIP & VISION

5 Driving change in the way Victorians balance work and family life requires leadership and vision from government. The Victorian Government is committed to showing the leadership necessary to deliver significant and lasting improvements in work and family balance for Victorians. In Growing Victoria Together, the Victorian Government s vision for the future of Victoria, the Government identified "building cohesive communities and reducing inequalities" as one of ten strategic issues of importance to Victoria s future. To help achieve this goal, the Government has nominated several priority actions, including the need to "encourage employers, workers and families to better balance their work and family responsibilities and their ability to participate in community life." Australia and Victoria face the challenge of finding new strategies to achieve a better balance between work and family responsibilities. Meeting this challenge is not only vitally important for Victorian families; it will also deliver significant benefits for Victorian workers, businesses and the State s economy. A failure to acknowledge changing family relationships and the interconnection between work and family life will lead to increasingly high social and economic costs being borne by the entire Victorian community. The challenge is to take action now to avoid these costs, improve the quality of life for Victorian families and ensure that the significant benefits of better work and family balance are enjoyed by all Victorians. The Government s policies and actions will contribute to its vision of a State and community where Victorians can: be involved in paid work; participate in family and community life; work in safe, fair, innovative and productive workplaces; and feel that Victoria is a great place to live, work and raise a family. Over the next two years the Victorian Government will take a whole of government approach and work with employers, unions and the wider community to: raise employee, business and community awareness; provide practical assistance and support to employees and employers; and ensure that government policies and programs reflect and reinforce the pursuit of a better balance between work and family life. A BETTER BALANCE BETWEEN WORK AND FAMILY LIFE DELIVERS BENEFITS FOR ALL VICTORIANS Benefits for business Improved retention of skilled and high performing employees. Reduced staff turnover, saving on recruitment and training costs. Reduced absenteeism and improved employee health. Reduced stress and stress related injuries and illnesses in the workplace. Higher morale and better work performance. Increased workplace cooperation, commitment and motivation. Recognition as an employer of choice, with innovative and family friendly work practices. Greater capacity to meet customer demand through flexible working hours, work schedules and other work arrangements. Recognition as a good corporate citizen, fulfilling social and organisational responsibilities. Benefits for workers and their families Greater job satisfaction. Better relationships with management. Improved personal and family relationships. Greater feeling of control over and satisfaction with work, family and caring responsibilities. Less stress and better health. Increased opportunities for participating in family and community activities. Benefits for Victoria Increased productivity and stronger economic growth. Availability of a wider pool of skilled labour, particularly among women and older workers. Greater capacity to address labour and skill shortages and attract skilled workers to Victoria. Greater scope to develop and realise the full potential of the workforce, new technologies and innovative work practices. More cohesive and caring communities which support families. Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 3

6 THE CHANGING NATURE OF WORK & FAMILIES Figure 1 - A snapshot of Victorian families Total families 1,199,019 Couple families 1,017,882 (84.9%) Couple family with children 596,686 (58.6%) Couple family without children 421,196 (41.4%) Both employed full time 114,006 (19.1%) Both employed part time 24,083 (4.0%) One employed full time other part time 169,494 (28.4%) Only one employed full time 137,619 (23.1%) Only one employed part time 33,761 (5.7%) Neither employed 71,162 (11.9%) Not stated/not present 46,561 (7.8%) Both employed full time 103,040 (24.4%) Both employed part time 17,207 (4.1%) One employed full time other part time 55,054 (13.1%) Only one employed full time 41,215 (9.8%) Only one employed part time 21,862 (5.2%) Neither employed 150,420 (35.7%) Not stated/not present 32,398 (7.7%) One parent family 181,137 (15.1%) Employed full time 44,058 (24.3%) Employed part time 37,911 (20.9%) Not employed 93,809 (51.8%) Not stated 5,359 (3.0%) Australian Bureau of Statistics 2001 Census of Population and Housing Victoria 4

7 The changing structure of families means that both men and women require greater flexibility at work to successfully combine their work and family responsibilities. It is not only families who pay the price of the growing imbalance between work and family life business, industry and the State s economy all bear the social and economic costs of the failure to deliver family friendly work practices. The nature and structure of Victoria s 1.2 million families is diverse. Families may comprise couples with or without children; sole parents; biological children or adopted children; dependent children or non-dependent children; grandparents, siblings and other extended family members. Over time the structure of families may vary, resulting in changes to caring responsibilities within families. With the ageing of the population, these responsibilities may encompass not only care for children, but also care for ageing, sick or disabled partners, parents or other family members. For example in 1998, there were over half a million people in Victoria providing ongoing care to people with a disability or to older people 1. The majority of these carers tend to be women. Figure 1 highlights the diverse nature of Victoria s 1.2 million families and their employment arrangements. For many families, the notion of women as full time mothers caring for their families at home and men as the sole family breadwinners, no longer holds true. Many women now combine their caring roles with work commitments, requiring men to share domestic and caring responsibilities in families. In fact, many men want to play a greater role in family life and are seeking work arrangements that enable them to spend more time with their families. Women typically manage work and family commitments through part time and casual employment arrangements, which often lack promotional, career and economic advancement and longer term job security. For men, increasingly long and extended working hours leave them with less time to spend with their families. This can also limit their partners options in terms of paid employment. Data from the State of Working Victoria Project commissioned by Industrial Relations Victoria 2 and conducted in July 2002 reveal that: Two thirds of women with dependent children work part time, while 93 percent of men with dependent children work full time. Forty seven percent of men with dependent children work extended hours; however, almost a third of men with dependent children would prefer to work fewer hours. A quarter of Victorian workers took time off to care for a sick family member and two fifths took time off to address personal matters. However women overwhelmingly assumed responsibility for caring for family members when they were sick. Forty five percent of all women with dependent children had taken time off in the previous twelve months to care for a sick family member, compared with 26.7 percent of men with dependent children. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 59 percent of carers of people with a disability or older people, combine their caring role with full or part time work 3. Changing family structures mean that both male and female employees now require greater flexibility at work in order to combine their work and family responsibilities. However, data from the State of Working Victoria Project 4 show that paid maternity leave is only provided in 22 percent of Victorian workplaces. While paid time off for personal matters is a common entitlement in 69 percent of Victorian workplaces, other forms of workplace flexibility such as the banking of work hours and rostered days off are less prevalent. For employees, family friendly workplaces contribute to improved physical and mental well being, greater job satisfaction and more control over work and family situations. When organisations fail to provide family friendly working conditions and flexible working arrangements, they risk losing skilled, experienced and valuable staff. As a consequence, they may incur significant recruitment and retraining costs. High levels of stress in juggling work and family commitments may lead to increased absenteeism and poor work performance. Job satisfaction and organisational commitment may also decline, having a negative impact on productivity and business results. Family friendly practices not only benefit employees, they also deliver significant benefits to businesses. Greater workplace flexibility may assist in meeting customer needs. Costs may be reduced through telecommuting or ework arrangements. Improved employee health and job satisfaction may increase performance and productivity. Juggling work and family life is one of the biggest challenges facing employees, employers, unions, industry and the community. Employees, families and businesses require a range of reasonable options in order to make informed choices about how to achieve a better balance between work and changing family responsibilities. 1 Australian Bureau of Statistics, Caring in the Community, , Industrial Relations Victoria, The Challenge of Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities - Work and family issues for the Victorian workforce, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Caring in the Community, , Industrial Relations Victoria, The Challenge of Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities - Work and family issues for the Victorian workforce, Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 5

8 6 GETTING THE BALANCE RIGHT- A COOPERATIVE APPROACH

9 Getting the balance right between work and family commitments, while accommodating the needs of business and the wider Victorian economy, can only be achieved through cooperation between government, business, unions, employers and employees. Business, employers, unions and government face a number of challenges in getting the balance right between work and family life. These include: helping individuals and families coordinate their work and family responsibilities to best suit their particular circumstances; accommodating the needs of business, as well as employees, in managing the work and family interface; removing employment disadvantages that may be faced by employees with family responsibilities; increasing the range of employment and care options for workers with family responsibilities; and providing a regulatory and policy framework to assist individuals, families and businesses achieve a better balance between work and family life. Changing workforce demographics, including increased labour market participation by women, new technologies and business imperatives mean that Victorian employers need to attract and retain well-trained, committed and high performing employees. At the same time, employees need to feel that their family life is not jeopardised by the demands of work. Competing in an innovative and globally connected economy also requires management and work practices that foster more collaborative and productive workplaces. Assisting employees to balance work and family commitments will result in employees feeling valued by their employers with resultant benefits to productivity. To succeed in a changing global economy and retain a high standard of living and good quality of life, Victoria needs an environment in which employees, families and businesses have viable options to help them balance work and family commitments in line with their needs. The Victorian Government can help create such an environment by delivering leadership and strategic direction; providing information to employees and businesses; developing appropriate industry support programs and legislative and policy frameworks; and continuing to explore these issues with the Federal Government, local governments and other state/territory governments. Business can contribute to such an environment by consulting with employees and unions about how work arrangements could facilitate a better balance between work and family commitments, implementing family friendly workplace initiatives that can be accessed by all employees (regardless of gender or employment status) and reviewing employment policies and practices to ensure that they do not discriminate against employees with parental and caring responsibilities. Workplace practices may be implemented such as: parental and carers leave; quality part time work or job sharing arrangements; flexible working hours and periods of annual leave; and other forms of assistance to help employees meet childcare or eldercare needs. Ongoing dialogue with the Federal Government is particularly important as it has primary responsibility for funding arrangements that impact on work and family balance, such as childcare and out of school hours care. In addition, specific purpose payments from the Federal Government are an important component of State funding for education, community, welfare and health services, all of which have an impact on the capacity of individuals to balance their work and family lives. The Action Agenda for Work and Family Balance sets out four key areas in which the Victorian Government will take action to help create an environment that fosters a better balance between work and family commitments. 1. Leading the way in work and family balance. 2. Supporting industry to adopt practices that enhance work and family balance. 3. Working in partnership with the community on work and family issues. 4. Demonstrating good practice in achieving work and family balance in Victorian public employment. Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 7

10 . AGENDA FLEXIBLE HOURS FAMILY LEAVE FAMILY BENEFITS FOR ACTION 8

11 LEADING THE WAY IN WORK & FAMILY BALANCE The Government will demonstrate leadership on work and family balance by contributing to debate on work and family issues, raising public awareness about the importance of balancing work and family commitments and promoting the economic and social benefits of better work and family balance to industry and the wider community. The Victorian Government is committed to developing a partnership approach to the way we work in Victoria, based on cooperation between employers, employees and their representatives. The Government recognises that such an approach is crucial to the task of taking Victoria forward as a successful, innovative and competitive economy. The Government will continue to adopt a partnership approach in leading the way towards a better work and family balance across the Victorian community. Record of achievement: Australia is only one of two OECD countries that fails to provide paid maternity leave support to women. In 2002 the Victorian Government made a submission to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission advocating for a rectification of this situation in the form of a federally funded national maternity leave scheme, providing 14 weeks paid maternity leave at the minimum adult wage. The Federal Awards (Uniform System) Act 2003 was enacted in May 2003 to enable common rule awards and orders to be made with respect to Victorian employees covered by Schedule 1A of the Commonwealth Workplace Relations Act This will enable the flow-on of federal award standards to all Victorian employees with respect to maternity, adoption and other family leave provisions. The Premier s Annual Women s Summit, inaugurated in 2000, provides an opportunity for Victorian women to identify priorities for Victorian Government action on work and family balance. In 2002 the Government commissioned RMIT s Centre for Applied Social Research to research options that could encourage a better balance between work and family life. The report, entitled Balancing work and family responsibilities: Policy implementation options 5, informed policy development on this issue. In September 2003, Industrial Relations Victoria released a discussion paper on the Challenge of Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities-Work and family issues for the Victorian workforce, which highlighted key findings from the State of Working Victoria Project on work and family balance issues. Agenda for future action: The Victorian Government will develop further policies on work and family balance based on pilot project outcomes and research funded by the Better Work and Family Balance Program, administered by Industrial Relations Victoria. The Victorian Government will intervene in the Australian Council of Trade Unions Work and Family Test Case to make submissions arguing for a better recognition of work and family commitments in the Australian industrial relations system. The Government will lead discussions with other States and Territories about a standard national approach to long service leave. Central to these discussions will be the question of how the nature and structure of long service leave provisions may contribute to a better work and family balance. The Victorian Government will continue to advocate for a federally funded national maternity leave scheme, providing 14 weeks paid maternity leave at the minimum adult wage. The Government will also continue to advocate for improvements to federally funded family benefits and entitlements. With a view to developing future policy options for government consideration, Industrial Relations Victoria will monitor the operation of new legislation in the United Kingdom, which gives employees with caring responsibilities a right to request flexible work hours and places a duty on employers to consider these requests. The Parliamentary Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee will review all Victorian legislation in 2004 to ensure existing legislation is non-discriminatory. The Equal Opportunity Commission will make submissions to the review on the possible discriminatory effects of Victorian legislation, including those related to pregnancy and parental or carer status. The Equal Opportunity Commission will undertake a project to identify the causes and impact of employment discrimination in Victoria. At the completion of the project in , the Commission will report to government on effective strategies to reduce or prevent systemic discrimination, including discrimination related to pregnancy and parental or carer status. The Indigenous Women Going Places Ministerial Advisory Committee Strategic Plan will provide a mechanism for the promotion and support of Indigenous women in paid and unpaid work across all sectors by: supporting the development of a Victorian Public Service Indigenous Women s Network; and distributing information to Victorian Indigenous community-based organisations about employment policies and programs that support Indigenous women in balancing their work and family commitments. 5 RMIT University, Centre for Applied Social Research, Balancing work and family responsibilities: Policy implementation options, June Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 9

12 . AGENDA FOR ACTION CASE STUDIES PILOT PROJECTS RESEARCH 10

13 SUPPORTING INDUSTRY TO ADOPT PRACTICES THAT ENHANCE WORK & FAMILY BALANCE The Government will encourage businesses to recognise the benefits of a positive approach to work and family balance and work with Victorian enterprises to develop innovative solutions for a better balance between work and family life. Building a successful and internationally competitive Victorian economy requires strong and productive industries, highly skilled and committed workers, innovative businesses and high performing cooperative workplaces. Flexible, innovative and family friendly work practices are critical to delivering these outcomes. Victorian businesses can achieve significant benefits from a positive approach to work and family balance, as successful family friendly practices can provide a competitive edge. To realise these benefits, the Victorian Government will work collaboratively with industry to encourage businesses to take-up effective work and family balance initiatives and build consideration of family issues into job design, work processes and workplace structures, while addressing business needs. Record of achievement: In May 2003, the Government allocated $2 million for the Better Work and Family Balance Program to support work and family balance initiatives in Victorian industry. A new Work and Family Balance Award has been included in the Victorian Government s Workplace Excellence Awards. This award recognises Victorian organisations that are embracing an innovative approach to work and family balance. The Payroll Tax (Maternity Leave and Adoption Leave Exemption) Act 2003 was passed by the Victorian Parliament on 30 April 2003 and provides payroll tax exemptions from 1 January 2003 to employers who provide paid maternity and adoption leave to employees for a period of up to 14 weeks. The Partners at Work Program, administered by Industrial Relations Victoria, has provided grants to assist companies implement work life balance initiatives, including initiatives aimed at improving work and family balance. The Equal Opportunity Commission is training employees and employers in facilitating better work and family balance. The Commission also publishes information on the rights and responsibilities of parents and carers in employment and assists employees and employers resolve disputes about work and family balance issues. Agenda for future action: Over the next four years, through the Better Work and Family Balance Program, the Government will provide funding of up $50,000 for pilot projects in small and medium sized businesses and local government organisations with fewer than 200 employees, to test innovative work and family balance initiatives. In 2004, Industrial Relations Victoria will commence a promotional campaign to publicise the benefits of work and family balance. Case studies will demonstrate lessons learned from implementing family friendly work practices and promotional materials, including fact sheets and kits, will be distributed. During 2004, the Government will conduct targeted research on work and family balance issues of significance to Victorian industries and businesses. The research will address specific issues based on identified needs and will form the basis for future policy development and advice to industry on work and family balance solutions. Also in 2004, the Government will convene a Work and Family Balance Conference for Victorian industry, providing an opportunity to showcase new research findings on work and family balance and present leading edge work and family balance initiatives. The Government will implement specific work and family balance activities for small business and other key sectors in A needs analysis will be undertaken to tailor activities to the specific needs of these sectors. The Equal Opportunity Commission will investigate and recommend to the Government ways to increase compliance with the existing duty on employers under the Equal Opportunity Act 1995 to reasonably accommodate employee requests for part time work, flexible working hours and other family friendly measures. Consideration will be given to developing an education campaign to increase awareness of and compliance with the provisions of the Equal Opportunity Act. WorkSafe will develop strategies for managing stress and fatigue in Victorian workplaces. These strategies will help employers identify, assess and control the sources of stress and fatigue in the workplace, some of which may relate to organisational, work design, individual and life away from work factors. The aim is to establish a compliance and enforcement framework to assist workplace parties manage the risks associated with stress and fatigue at work. Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 11

14 PRIVATE SECTOR WORK & FAMILY INITIATIVES CASE STUDIES FORD MOTOR COMPANY OF AUSTRALIA LTD Following the success of a number of worklife balance program initiatives already in existence at Ford, senior management supported the establishment of a Worklife Taskforce in 2002, to develop a strategy for the roll out of further work life balance initiatives. In order to evaluate the extent to which the company was meeting employee needs in terms of work life balance initiatives, a work life survey was conducted for all salaried employees. The employee response rate to this survey was one of the highest ever received by the company and reinforced the importance of work life balance issues to employees at Ford Australia. Survey results revealed that each functional area in Ford had very different needs when it came to addressing work life balance issues. The survey also found that existing work life balance policies and practices, such as flexible working options, needed to be communicated more effectively to increase employee awareness of their availability. Based on these findings, work life balance action plans are being rolled out across each functional area in Ford Australia. This localised approach caters for the specific employee and business needs of each work area. Senior management at Ford Australia view work life balance as a core part of the company s overall commitment to diversity in the workplace and a raft of work life initiatives have been integrated into the everyday working environment of Ford. Some of these initiatives include: a flexible work options policy; a working calendar based around religious and cultural events; an on site childcare facility in Broadmeadows; and paid maternity leave, family leave, and parental leave up to when the child is 5 years old. Ford Australia s approach to work life balance is to listen to what employees want and to respond wherever possible to employees needs. It recognises that work life balance policies and practices support workplace diversity and help to attract, develop and retain the very best employees. 12

15 ARUP AUSTRALASIA Arup Australasia is part of the global Arup Group. Employing around 580 staff with 160 based in Melbourne, Arup Australasia has offices in most other Australian states and territories, as well as Papua New Guinea and Singapore. Originally a consulting engineering business, Arup is now a diverse and dynamic organisation providing a broad range of design and consulting services, from infrastructure and design engineering, to communications and sustainability consultancy. One of Arup s objectives is to provide a challenging and rewarding working environment for both women and men and its approach to business reflects the significance of its people to achieving successful performance. Approximately 28 percent of Arup s employees are women, which is much higher than the average of 18 to 20 percent for the engineering consulting sector as a whole. However, as experienced by other firms in the industry, Arup found that senior female engineers with 7 to 10 years experience were not returning to work after starting families and the organisation was losing highly skilled and extremely valuable staff, with considerable tenure. This impacted on client relationships, project delivery and overall business outcomes. In response, Arup implemented a number of initiatives to encourage women to return to work after having children and to support them in combining work and family commitments. Arup now provides 4 weeks paid maternity leave to females with 3 years service when they commence maternity leave, and a further 4 weeks paid leave when they return to work after maternity leave. The organisation also maintains meaningful contact with women on maternity leave by: providing them with computers; communicating via and in person; and inviting them to participate in major organisational events, such as Arup s annual Divisional Forum, training and development programs, and representing Arup at official and informal dinners. These measures have contributed to an increase in the number of women returning to Arup after maternity leave from 40 percent to almost 100 percent. With higher return to work rates for women on maternity leave, Arup also recognised that other support would be required such as office facilities which provide privacy for nursing mothers at work. The CEO of Arup Australasia, David Singleton, supports the professional and personal development of high performing staff, and is an advocate for better work, family and life balance. The organisation is progressively rolling out other initiatives to help all employees achieve a better balance between their work and personal life, including work and family life. For example: staff can apply for flexible working arrangements such as job sharing, ongoing part time work, reduced working hours on specified days and reduced working weeks; if emergency care situations arise, employees may work from home on a short-term basis, when possible; and special flexible leave arrangements are also possible if staff need time off due to carer responsibilities, phased down retirement, study or other personal commitments. For Arup there are still many challenges in terms of addressing work and family life balance issues, especially as client expectations about meeting times and project timelines must be satisfied. However the organisation acknowledges that the benefits that flow from practices geared to work, family and life balance ultimately deliver better client service, improved employee commitment and morale, higher staff retention and reduced absenteeism. In addition, these practices increase workforce diversity and enhance creativity and innovation, which are the hallmarks of the Arup Group. Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 13

16 . AGENDA FOR ACTION OUT OF SCHOOL HOURS CARE CHILDCARE RESPITE CARE 14

17 WORKING IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE COMMUNITY ON WORK AND FAMILY ISSUES The Government will work with communities across Victoria to develop practical solutions to the problems associated with balancing work, family and community commitments. The Victorian Government is committed to building confident, active and resilient communities that support families in gaining access to quality education, health care and community services. Many families face the dual pressures of caring for children who have different needs at different stages of their lives and of caring for other family members who may be elderly, sick or disabled. Caring roles often entail significant time and energy, and for many carers this may affect their ability to participate in paid employment or other activities. Services such as childcare or respite care provide carers with a break from their caring commitments and the opportunity to engage in work or other interests. The Government will work in partnership with the community to provide a range of services to assist Victorians care for children and other family members, while maintaining their involvement in paid work or other activities. Record of achievement: In the State Budget, the Government allocated $11 million over four years for return to work grants to assist parents with the costs of training and education to facilitate their return to work after two years of full time caring for children. The Parents Returning to Work Program was launched on 1 July 2003, with 2475 grants available in The roll out of Children First initiatives has commenced aimed at giving Victorian children the best start in life, including the establishment of new children s centres that will provide a single entry point for an integrated range of services such as preschool, childcare, maternal and child health and early intervention programs. In August 2003, the Premier announced the creation of a Children s Advisory Committee of internationally recognised experts and nationally recognised children s advocates to advise the Victorian Government on how children s services can be improved to best meet the needs of Victorian families. Through the Department of Human Services, the Maternal and Child Health Line has been expanded to operate 24 hours a day, increasing the availability of support and advice to Victorian families with young children. The number of families assisted by the service has more than doubled, with qualified maternal and child health nurses responding to 62,500 calls in Since coming to office in 1999, the Government has increased funding for services providing support and assistance to the families and carers of people with a disability, including respite care and in-home support. The Government has also increased funding for services supporting the families and carers of older Victorians, including the Aged Care Support for Carers Program and the Home and Community Care program. Funding is provided for planned respite care to provide people with a mental illness and their carers with a break from their usual care arrangements. Support for carers is also provided through the mental health carer support program, which provides practical support and assistance to carers to assist them in their caring role. Through the Community Support Fund, the Government has provided a grant to support the Capacity Building Project and Information Hub at the Queen Victoria Women s Centre. This project will improve access to information and referral services for working women in rural, regional and metropolitan Victoria. Agenda for future action: Under the Parents Returning to Work Program, the Government will continue to provide grants of $1000 for the training and education of parents wishing to return to work after two years of full time caring for children. Up to 10,000 parents will be assisted over the four year life of the program. The Children s Advisory Committee will report to the Government on the provision of childcare for Victorian families, the implementation of the Government s Children First initiatives and improving linkages between maternal and child health services, childcare, preschool and early school years. The Department of Human Services will provide support to out of school hours care services in through the Quality in Early Years Service initiative. Projects will include training grants and resource development to enhance the quality of out of school hours services. The Department of Education and Training will conduct a project to identify successful models of operation for Outside Hours School Care programs and will consider options for an Out of School Hours strategy within the Victorian education system. The Victorian Government will continue to advocate for sufficient federal funding to meet the needs of Victorian families with respect to childcare and outside school hours care. $8 million will be provided over three years for the establishment of children s centres to create a single point of entry for families to an integrated range of early childhood services. Priority will be given to underserviced areas and communities experiencing significant disadvantage. Additionally, $8 million over three years has been allocated for the establishment of new preschools in multi-use facilities, particularly in growth corridors and areas of high migrant population. The Department of Human Services, in partnership with the Municipal Association of Victoria, will undertake a project to improve maternal and child health services. These improvements are supported by additional investment of $16 million and will deliver services that are more responsive to contemporary family lifestyles. In , the Department of Human Services will commence the development of a strategic policy framework to deliver a coordinated approach to meeting the needs of carers into the future. Through the introduction of individualised planning and support for people with a disability, the Government will provide improved support for people with complex needs and their families and carers. Over the next four years $6 million will be allocated to expand respite support. Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 15

18 . AGENDA EXTENDED LEAVE QUALITY PART TIME WORK CARERS FACILITIES FOR ACTION 16

19 DEMONSTRATING GOOD PRACTICE IN WORK & FAMILY BALANCE IN VICTORIAN PUBLIC EMPLOYMENT The Government will use its position as a major Victorian employer to show leadership in moving towards a better balance between work and family commitments for public sector employees and demonstrating the benefits to organisations of adopting family friendly work practices. Record of achievement: Under the Victorian Public Service (Non-Executive Staff) Agreement 2001, the Government is encouraging public service agencies to develop appropriate strategies for balancing work and family commitments. As a result, innovative work and family balance initiatives are now common across the Victorian public service. For example, the Department of Justice provides coreless flexible working hours, compressed working weeks, job sharing, flexible use of long service leave and unpaid family leave and career breaks of up to 7 years. The Department of Human Services makes use of keeping in touch practices to communicate with employees who are on extended leave and many metropolitan and regional offices of the Department provide carers facilities for employees with caring responsibilities. The Office of Public Employment has conducted Managing Diversity and Regional Forums across the public sector to promote sound people management practices, including work and family balance initiatives. The Commissioner for Public Employment, has awarded Certificates of Commendations for public sector achievements in management, including managing work and family balance, and is providing grants of $5000 for future initiatives. In 2003, Seabrook Primary School was awarded a certificate of commendation for work life balance initiatives, while the University of Ballarat received a grant to implement new work life balance measures. Agenda for future action: Victoria Police will investigate and trial the implementation of quality part time work arrangements in operational areas of the police service. In addition, Victoria Police will conduct an Employee Childcare Needs Project, to examine how staff can be supported in balancing their work and child care responsibilities. The project recognises that Victoria Police staff face particular challenges in finding high quality, reasonably priced childcare and that it is vital for the organisation to have a flexible approach to work and family balance. The Department of Education and Training will review its Flexible Work Policy to ensure departmental practices are inclusive, non-discriminatory and provide better opportunities for work and family balance. The review also includes an examination of part time employment and flexible work options for principals and executive officers. Following consultation with key stakeholders, the Attorney General will consider a proposal to change the Magistrates Court Act 1989 to allow the appointment of magistrates on a part time basis. The Government has identified work and family balance as an issue for consideration in the negotiation of the Victorian Public Service (Non-Executive) Staff Agreement The Victorian Government will consider extending paid maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks for its own employees, following a decision by the Federal Government in relation to a nationally funded maternity leave scheme. The Office of Public Employment will conduct a census of the Victorian public sector in 2004, collecting demographic and employment data, including the take-up of flexible work practices that assist work and family balance. Findings from a range of studies conducted across the public sector by the Office of Public Employment, such as the Organisational Self Assessment, the People Matter Survey and the public sector census, will provide information to the Government to guide future policy development on work and family balance in Victorian public employment. The Office for Workforce Development will work with public service departments to assess the current use of part time work and the feasibility of developing pilot projects on quality part time working arrangements in In addition, the Office for Workforce Development will evaluate employee satisfaction with work and family life balance in the Victorian Public Service in Action Agenda for Work & Family Balance 17

20 PUBLIC SECTOR WORK & FAMILY INITIATIVES CASE STUDIES SEABROOK PRIMARY SCHOOL Seabrook Primary School is a relatively new but expanding educational facility in a new residential development in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Since opening in 1997, enrolments have increased from 242 students to over 600. The school employs 50 staff from diverse backgrounds, with a range of cultural, personal and family commitments. In the past, staff had to take a half or full day away from work to meet these commitments and this had a negative impact on staff wellbeing, as well as the operation of the school. School finances were also affected, as casual replacement teachers were required. The Principal decided that action needed to be taken to assist staff in balancing their work, family and personal life commitments. Following extensive consultation with staff, it was agreed that a more flexible approach to the timetable was required to support flexible work options for all staff. Teaching staff can forward requests for flexible work options to the Principal in advance. They can then organise swaps with other specialist teachers at the beginning or end of each day. To support this arrangement, a new timetable has been developed to ensure individual year levels are rostered on with specialists on the same day. Non-teaching support staff such as integration aides can apply in advance for flexible work options, enabling the Integration Coordinator to deploy staff to support individual students as and when required. Flexible work arrangements are also used by the school s office staff. For example, the Business Manager works from home one day per week and another officemember structures her work so that she can collect her children from school. In addition, staff returning from family leave may nominate for a role and time fraction that they would like to undertake without adversely affecting their career. For example, all staff have access to a Leadership Mentoring Program and to leadership positions at the school. This has resulted in part time staff members being given Acting Leader Teacher and Acting Assistant Principal roles. As well as assisting mothers and fathers in the early and middle stages of their family life, the school also supports older staff members who may want to phase down their out of hours work loads prior to retirement. The implementation of these flexible work arrangements has resulted in: direct cost savings in the school budget; better relations between staff and management; improved staff attendance; the acknowledgment and encouragement of positive links between work and home life; and greater staff commitment to the school knowing that work arrangements are flexible enough to cater for personal situations. Overall, flexible work options have delivered positive outcomes for the entire community at Seabrook Primary School. 18

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