The Australian Greens will move to improve industrial laws to guarantee entitlements for parents, carers and workers and make Australia a better place to work and live, according to Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.
Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson on the Status of Women, says the Greens know the simplest and best way to guarantee industrial entitlements is to amend the Fair Work Act.
"The Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme doesn't actually guarantee parents time off after the birth of their child, because it is not written as a workplace entitlement,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.
"That's why we want to see the Act changed to ensure that parents eligible for a parental leave payment are also entitled to actually take leave. It's not a difficult job, it just needs the will to get it done, and the Greens are committed to achieve this reform, combined with the right scheme that guarantees six months' leave plus superannuation payments for parents.
"We also want to extend the existing right to request flexible working arrangements in the Fair Work Act to all workers - we will start by amending the act to give access to all carers to this entitlement, with a review in two years to recommend a time frame for extending the entitlement to all workers.
"The Greens are committed to help Australians strike a better balance between their work commitments and the other parts of their lives.''
An academic study by the Centre for Work and Life at the University of South Australia has found that full-time workers are finding it increasingly difficult to achieve work-life balance, with one-quarter of women and one-fifth of men saying they are unhappy with the balance in their lives.
Senator Hanson-Young says the study reflects the growing challenges facing Australians, and emphasises the need to provide more support to deal with these challenges.
"Whether they are caring for an aging parent or a disabled child, have changing custody arrangements or a variety of other responsibilities, many Australians are having to deal with personal circumstances that are made more difficult by inflexible working hours,'' Senator Hanson-Young said.
"The Greens want to give Australian parents the right to spend vital time with their newborns, and to provide a legislative guarantee for carers and workers to request flexible hours that allow them to meet all their responsibilities, not just the ones to their employers.
"We will work with whoever forms government to pass these necessary reforms.''
Greens lead Senate candidate for Queensland, Larissa Waters, said the Greens' plan would help families under pressure.
"As the first Greens Senator for Queensland, flexible working hours for parents and carers is one of my top priorities,'' she said.
"Queenslanders who care for family members take pressure off our health systems, and the government should recognise and support this by amending workplace laws to provide the flexibility to do so."