Department of Family and Community Services

3.1 Flexible work arrangements

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Availability and use of flexible work arrangements for caring purposes

Current position

In 2010, some 91 percent of women and men aged 20 to 64 years said that one or more type of flexible work arrangement was available in their workplace to assist in meeting family or community arrangements.

However, 74 percent of employed mothers and 41 percent of employed fathers in 2011 reported that they used one or more type of flexible work arrangement to care for children.

Part-time work and flexible working hours were used most frequently by mothers, while flexible working hours were used most frequently by fathers.

Gender gap

  • Women were nearly twice as likely as fathers to use flexible working arrangements to care for children.
The direction of change over timeNo historic data is available for this indicator.
Discussion

Availability of flexible work arrangements

The vast majority of women and men report that employers make flexible work arrangements available to them to assist in meeting family or community commitments. The type of arrangements most commonly listed are flexible working hours, and various forms of leave including annual, carer’s, sick, long service and unpaid leave. Differences between women and men are minor, although women are more likely to report the availability of permanent part-time work.

Use of flexible work arrangements

However, another ABS survey of people with children 12 years and under suggests that there are major gender differences in use of those arrangements. See Table 4.3.

Flexible working hours is the arrangement that men use most (29 percent of men use this). Many women also use it (41 percent of women).

Working at home is less frequently used by either sex with 17 percent of women and 12 percent of men using it.

The other common form of working arrangement is part-time work; this is where the gender gap is largest. Only 5 percent of men use part-time work to assist them to care for children, compared to 42 percent of women.

Paid parental leave

The new national scheme providing up to 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay (PLP) at the rate of the minimum wage was introduced in January 2011. Nearly 41,300 expectant and new parents took advantage of the scheme in NSW during 2011-12, one-third of the national total.

This equates to around 42 percent of all births registered in NSW during 2011, although note that only people who have met the income and work tests, which include having worked at least one day per week in 10 of the 13 months prior to the baby’s birth, are eligible for PLP.

Indicator 3.1 uses a survey of employed people with children to describe use of work arrangements to assist in their care during the reference week of the survey. These work arrangements are made available by an employer or are self-initiated. ‘Flexible working hours’ refers to workers having some control over starting, finishing and/or break times; ‘part-time work’ refers to working less than 35 hours per week; and ‘work at home’ refers to conducting work duties occasionally or always from home rather than an external location.

The General Social Survey data is for a different population, employed people aged 20 to 64 years, who are asked about the availability (as opposed to use) of such conditions. The survey covers a wider range of working arrangements but sample sizes preclude further analysis for NSW.

Parents receiving parental leave payments are compared to the number of registered births in NSW, but note that multiple births and the eligibility criteria for PLP mean there is not a one-to-one correspondence between the two.

Year collected: 2010 (General Social Survey), 2011 (Childhood Education and Care), 2011-12 (Parental Leave Pay).
Data source: ABS (2011) General Social Survey, Australia, 2010 (unpublished data). Cat no. 4159.0. ABS (2012) Childhood Education and Care, Australia, June 2011, Cat no. 4402.0, Births Australia (2012) Cat no. 3301.0, FAHCSIA Paid Parental Leave data for NSW, unpublished. More information is available at www.abs.gov.au; www.humanservices.gov.au

Table 4.3 Use of work arrangements to care for children, by sex, NSW, 2011

 Employed female parent %Employed male parent %
Used work arrangements (total) 

74

41

Flexible working hours 

41

29

Part-time work 

42

5

Work at home 

17

12

Any other arrangement 

9

7

Did not use work arrangements 

26

58

Total employed parents with one or more children 12 years and under 

100

100

Note: The table shows use of work arrangements to care for children by an employed female and male parent or guardian in families where at least one parent is employed. Numbers may not add up to 100 due to rounding.
Population: Families in NSW with children aged 0 to 12, with at least one parent employed.
Source: ABS (2012) Childhood Education and Care, Australia, June 2011. Cat no. 4402.0.