Dad and Partner Pay: Implications for policy-makers and practitioners
Penelope Rush

On 1 January 2013, Australia introduced 2 weeks of government-funded Dad and Partner Pay for eligible working fathers or partners, including adopting parents and same-sex partner parents. This paper uses existing literature to describe Australia's family leave policy history leading up to this initiative, as well as providing background to the social context in which changes are being made. International parental/paternity leave policies and practices are considered in order to highlight key findings from policy enactment that may inform Australia's current and future policy approaches to parental/paternity leave, pay and other financial support to new parents.

This paper is of primary interest to policy-makers, but also service providers for whom family-related policy changes are relevant in terms of impacts on families accessing services and employee leave provisions.

Full publication

Key messages

  • The introduction of Dad and Partner Pay on 1 January 2013 is a significant addition to Australia's existing government-funded Paid Parental Leave scheme and complements parental leave policy under the National Employment Standards, which more appropriately reflects the current social context for fatherhood and validates new gender norms for the care of children in Australia.
  • Government-funded paternity leave in a number of countries - including Portugal, Sweden, Norway and Iceland - has directly resulted in an increase in uptake of leave by fathers at the time of the birth or adoption of a child.
  • International experience indicates that if governments provide well-compensated, flexible, parent-specific (mother or father or shared) and publicly promoted parental leave, fathers' uptake of leave will increase.
  • Financial support to take leave at the time of a child's birth can give fathers a greater role that extends beyond the financial, encouraging them to engage immediately in the caring tasks. Leave can also give fathers the chance to develop a co-parenting relationship early, to enable a lived experience that reshapes notions of fatherhood and to increase their practical and emotional investment in their infant's care.
  • Other key findings include:
    • government family leave and family payment policies do impact on choices families can make around work and care;
    • the impact of parental/paternity leave is greater if the leave is flexible and available over a long period of time (e.g., until a child reaches school age); and
    • legislated and government-funded parental/paternity leave and other government-funded financial support for new parents can increase the ability of fathers in low income brackets and those working in small businesses or who are self-employed to share in the care of their children.

Author

Penelope Rush is a Senior Research and Communication Officer at the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Acknowledgements

The author wishes to acknowledge the valuable contributions of Dr Richard Fletcher, Leader, Fathers and Families Research Program at the University of Newcastle; Elly Robinson, Manager, Child Family Community Australia information exchange at the Australian Institute of Family Studies; Rhys Price-Robertson, Senior Research Officer at the Australian Institute of Family Studies; and Antonia Quadara, Research Fellow and Manager, Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault at the Australian Institute of Family Studies

Publishing details

CFCA Paper No. 12
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, February 2013, 15 pp. ISSN 2200-4106 ISBN 978-1-922038-12-8

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