The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) has launched a landmark report on the disincentives for women re-entering the workforce after having children. It finds that subsidising kindy in WA childcare centres would help ease the re-entry of parents into employment.
The way funding for kindy is allocated in WA means that unlike in other states, childcare centres cannot offer free kindy. This has left many parents with no choice but to juggle multiple providers, creating a ‘logistical nightmare’.
The scope for gains is significant. The gap between men’s and women’s workforce participation in WA is the highest in the country (12 percentage points), and when WA mothers do return to work, they work fewer hours. Opportunities go begging when we draw less on the talents and experience of working women.
The report also recommends more flexible Commonwealth paid parental leave, and for early childhood education and care to be exempt from the Fringe Benefits Tax regime.
Businesses also need to continue building a culture where fathers feel comfortable taking on more parental responsibility.
CCIWA urges all stakeholders to embrace these reforms to strengthen the WA economy. Each recommendation in the Making Paid Work Pay for Families with Children report would accelerate WA’s transition to a knowledge economy and provide it with the competitive edge it needs.