Families call for removal of primary and secondary caregiver labels

Australia votes ‘yes’ for parenting equality:

Families call for removal of primary and secondary caregiver labels

New research commissioned by ING has revealed that the perception of the primary and secondary caregiver is considered outdated, as Australian families are seeking equal parental leave for both parents to ease the pressures of raising a child.

More than three quarters (76%) of Australians believe that both caregivers – no matter the family dynamic – should be permitted to equal leave after the arrival of a newborn, as a quarter of parents (27%) worry about missing out on bonding with their baby during the first few weeks and 75% of parents feel they need more than two weeks leave.

The research comes as more workplaces strive to keep up with changing attitudes, including ING, which has today become the first bank in Australia to entitle both parents to an equal 14 weeks of paid parental leave, and removed references to ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ carers in its parental leave policy.

The new policy aims to remove the stigmas associated with parental leave, as half of men (50%) felt that as a secondary carer they would have less justification to ask for more paternity leave from their employer, while two in five (41%) felt they would be judged by work colleagues or their boss if they were to take leave.

Melanie Evans, Head of Retail Bank at ING, said: “There’s no one way to define today’s modern family, each with a unique structure and range of challenges. Workplaces therefore have to question their own assumptions around the caregiving roles once assigned to mums and dads. Our findings tell us they no longer apply.

“By acknowledging that no two families are the same and that all parents deserve equal entitlements and flexibility, we hope to normalise the process of taking leave, particularly for those once considered secondary carers.”

The majority (91%) of those surveyed consider both parents to be equal carers in the home. Parents revealed that they would feel more comfortable taking time off work should their workplace embrace parental equality (59%).

Australians’ opinions on parenting roles are changing, with 6 in 10 (62%) agreeing the role of just one – or primary – caregiver is “old-fashioned” and the majority (69%) believe that the terms ‘primary caregiver’ and ‘secondary caregiver’ promote unequal levels of caregiving work in families.

The research revealed that Australians believe equal parental leave will have a positive effect on families, including strengthening the family unit (85%), whilst parents agree it will ease the pressures of raising a child (77%) and allow both parents to bond with their child (68%).

The family dynamic has evolved over the last few decades, resulting in a diverse set of “modern families.” And new policies, such as ING’s, come in response to their contemporary needs, with 78% of same-sex couples agreeing that the removal of the primary and secondary carer labels is more inclusive, and half (51%) agreeing that their removal reflects modern family life.

Dr. Justin Coulson, parenting expert and father of six, also

/Public Release.