The Australian Retailers Association has welcomed the Government’s $1.7 billion investment in reducing out-of-pocket expenses for families with kids in childcare, but has said it needs to announce additional measures to encourage and support women in the workforce.
According to ARA chief executive Paul Zahra retail is an industry of choice for women, who represent nearly 60 per cent of the overall retail workforce and around 70 per cent of part-time and casual roles.
“As we rebuild our economy, retail will play a key role,” Zahra said. “We need to remove the barriers for women who want to get back in the workforce and invest in their skills after time out of the job market.
“We know female underemployment in retail is linked to child care, but inflexible working conditions and skills are also major barriers to participation. Many of the industrial relations reforms put on the table over the past year were dropped, leaving flexibility for rostered hours of work for both employees and employers within retail in a very unfriendly place for anyone who is the primary carer of children.
“We urgently need to complete those reforms to allow women more flexibility.”
According to the Productivity Commission, more than 90,000 Australians have said they couldn’t enter the workforce because of the exorbitant cost of child care.
Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said addressing this issue is no longer a cultural or social issue, but also an economic imperative – one that could pump a further $5 billion into the Australian economy each year.
“Our childcare and paid parental leave systems are a barrier to women who want to get back into work and they don’t work for modern families, Westacott said.
“For every dollar we invest in child care, we’ll get $2 back. KPMG estimates that the cost of our child care plan would be around $2.5 billion but it would deliver a boost to the economy of around $4 to $5 billion.
“By tackling these issues, we can get people back into the workforce, give families choices and build on our momentum down the path to recovery.”