Fathers set to win fairer family rights

Started by slayton, Oct 16, 2010, 10:13 AM

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Oct 16, 2010, 10:13 AM Last Edit: Oct 17, 2010, 02:25 AM by slayton
Fathers set to win fairer family rights

COMPANIES will be forced to give fathers who request it flexible working hours so that they can play a greater role at home and in child-rearing.

Minister for the Status of Women Kate Ellis is set to launch a major campaign to change workplace equality laws and social attitudes to enable more men to share the parenting responsibility.

Ms Ellis said after creating an equal environment for women in the workplace, it is now time to give men the opportunity to be stay-at-home dads.

"I intend to pursue reform of our workplace equality legislation through the Parliament, to achieve greater choice and flexibility for Australians of both genders," she said.

Australian companies from blue-collar industries to corporate organisations are reluctant to let men work part-time. Ms Ellis said that more family-friendly working arrangements were already in place for women.

"Men can also be discriminated against in the workplace when it comes to caring for the kids," she said.

Under proposed amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act, companies will be forced to give working fathers more flexible hours so they can take greater responsibility for child care. Men, as well as women, will now be formally protected from discrimination based on their caring and family responsibilities.

Yet-to-be-released research into Australian families by the Department of Equal Education, Employment and Workplace Relations reveals there has been major shift from the traditional male breadwinner and a female caregiver to households where both parents are dual income earners and carers.

"Despite these shifts Australian women continue to do the greater share of unpaid caring and domestic work," Ms Ellis said.

Dr Graeme Russell is the author of First Time Father and a specialist on fathering. He said five years ago, his research showed that only two per cent of men opted to be primary caregivers, but that figure was now closer to five per cent.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, of the 1.5 million couple families, 95 per cent of mothers worked part-time compared to five per cent men.

When both parents were employed full-time, mothers spent 17 hours caring for the children, more than double that of men.

Leon Naufahu wanted to be there for his two sons and walked away from his marketing career four years ago to become a stay-at-home dad. His wife Monique continued her real estate career.

"I couldn't have asked for flexible hours, it's just not viewed as realistic for men, and still isn't," the 39-year-old from Rozelle said.

Ms Ellis said incentives like changes under the Fair Work Act meant men and women now had the right to request flexible work arrangements from employers.


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