WES Statement heralded as providing required flexibility for small businesses and women
The Australian Government’s initiative to develop Australia’s first Women’s Economic Security (WES) Statement has been welcomed by the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman and the Chief Executive Women (CEW) advocacy group.
The statement was announced yesterday by Federal Minister for Women The Hon Kelly O’Dwyer.
The Women’s Economic Security package will invest in excess of $100 million over four years to focus attention and efforts on three core pillars:
- Increasing workforce participation
- Building financial security, resilience and independence
- Better earning potential.
“Australia’s small business owners will appreciate the flexibility of the new-look paid parental leave scheme,” the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell said.
“Mum and dad business owners often don’t get to use their whole paid parental leave entitlement because they have to be back at work soon after the baby is born; sometimes as soon as a couple of weeks.
“To expect a self-employed parent to exit their small business for an 18 week block is unrealistic and unworkable. Today, 34 per cent of all Australian business operators are women and they need to be able to organise their business in a way that works for them after having a baby.
“While you have to take the first 12 weeks as a block in the first year, the flexible use of the remaining six weeks will go a long way to ensure their small business can maintain momentum. It will allow part time work arrangements or small blocks to be taken at a time that suits the new parent.
“Ideally, we would like the government to consider allowing small business owners flexibility around the use of the first 12 weeks as well.
“This new policy is more family friendly and small business friendly, and gives parents the ability to make choices on how they manage these two very crucial years.”
Kathryn Fagg, President of Chief Executive Women – a body that works with organisations to remove barriers to female progression – said “Improving female workforce participation, enhancing women’s economic security and moves to address both the pay gap and the flexibility gap are important initiatives for Australia’s future economic success.
“We are delighted that the Government, through the Reducing Barriers to Work Forum is also intending to engage with business to accelerate the identification of the systemic barriers to women’s workforce participation and generate practical and inclusive solutions,” she said.