Lion offers full parental leave to workers

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Less than a week after Equal Pay Day, Lion has upped the ante on gender equality, becoming one of the first Australian FMCG companies to offer paid leave to all new parents, regardless of their parenting role, and providing an additional six weeks’ superannuation on unpaid parental leave, taking total coverage to 18 weeks.

Announcing that the brewer would offer full parental leave to all workers eliminating the distinction between primary and secondary carers, Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said that these labels entrenched a two-speed approach to parenting from a child’s earliest days.

“The Workplace Gender Equality Agency have identified primary and secondary carer labels, which are still commonplace in most businesses, as a major driver of inequality in Australian workplaces,” Mr Irvine said.

“Requiring a couple to nominate a primary carer at the start of parenthood immediately sets up an unequal division of labour within the household, which in many cases produces barriers down the track to integrating mothers back into the workforce.

“Discrimination between primary and secondary carers is not helpful from the point of view of the couple or the business, and we’re proud to be one of the first major Australian companies to move beyond these labels to a model where both parents are eligible for full paid parental leave – which in Lion’s case is twelve weeks.

“It’s not only a win for mothers – it eliminates a major barrier for fathers who want to be more hands on in parenting their young children.”

Mr Irvine said that the policy also had the potential to bring about a step-change in corporate culture around parenthood, fostering a more balanced understanding amongst male leaders of the implications of parenting on a worker’s career path, and breaking down any remaining invisible recruitment bias against women of child-bearing age.

The second initiative announced by Lion aims to address a serious, yet often unacknowledged aspect of the gender pay gap – the discrepancy in superannuation savings between men and women.

Women currently retire with 47% less superannuation than men, despite living five years longer on average.

“The problem is not simply that women are typically paid less,” Mr Irvine said.

“Any parent – to this point typically the mother – who takes unpaid leave to care for their children also misses out on superannuation contributions for that time period, and the effect of these missing contributions compounds over the course of their career.”

“For a relatively small upfront investment we can move to address a major source of pay inequality for women in the workforce.”

Lion first identified and then closed its like-for-like gender pay gap in 2017 and has successfully kept the gap closed since. The company has been a WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality since 2019 and CEO Stuart Irvine is a WGEA Equal Pay Ambassador and joined the Champions of Change Coalition in March 2021.

Lion’s new leave policies will come into effect from 1 October.

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