09 September 2016

Australia, Melbourne

Mercer 2016 Global Parental Leave Report

Australian companies are miles ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to offering parental leave benefits in the workplace over and above legislated policies, according to Mercer’s 2016 Global Parental Leave report.

Mercer’s report highlights that today, companies are voluntarily opting to expand their parental leave benefits because they’ve become a frontline tool in the battle to attract, develop, and retain the right talent.

Australia comes in second in Mercer’s report of the Top 10 countries with companies providing paternity leave above the statutory requirement. Sixty four per cent of Australian companies provide paternity leave above the statutory requirement and a further 22% of companies plan to increase the number of paternity days provided. Globally, 38% of companies provide paid paternity leave above the statutory minimum. The United States took the top position – reflecting the fact that there are no statutory requirements for US based companies.

“Innovative benefits such as parental leave beyond the traditional maternity leave will deliver positive business outcomes,” said, Yolanda Beattie, Leader of Mercer’s Diversity and Inclusion practice in Australia and New Zealand.

“Effective human capital management is critical to long-­term business performance. A thriving workforce is an asset and competitive advantage, and an innovative parental leave policy and diversity and inclusion strategy more broadly can have a positive effect on both employees and employers.

“Keeping ahead of global trends on issues such as parental leave is critical to remaining competitive in an increasingly changing workplace and potential workforce,” Ms Beattie said.

Policy not enough to shift dial

“Mercer’s report revealed that Australian companies may have the right intentions but are still struggling to ensure the policy becomes part of the company culture.

“Gender equality at work depends on gender equality at home. The provision and take up of parental leave by dads is a vital step in any employer’s efforts to create workplaces where women and men can equally thrive,” said Ms Beattie.

  • Only 47% surveyed believe their paternity leave policy is integrated as part of company culture;
  • Only 41% of companies have managers that encourage employees to take the leave; and
  • More than one in five (22%) companies did not actively encourage or promote the policy.

The evolution of ‘family’

As the definition of families continues to evolve, more organisations are expanding leave policies to include fathers, part-­time employees and caregivers of parents to help ensure inclusivity among their workforce. Despite criteria for leave eligibility varying by policy type, country, and company, on the whole this progressive view of family and gender roles is more prevalent when it comes to defining eligibility for paternity leave.

  • Almost two-­thirds (64%) of companies worldwide provide maternity leave for only the birth mother, 24% of companies provide this leave to the primary caregiver — regardless of gender;;
  • 54% of companies define eligibility based on the birth father only. An additional 34% provide leave based on the broadest definition — birth father or secondary caregiver, regardless of gender;;
  • In Australia, 77% of companies define the eligibility for paternity leave as the birth father or secondary caregiver, regardless of gender; and
  • 15% still define it as birth father only and 8% state the birth father or secondary caregiver, male only;;
  • 97% of Australian companies surveyed handle adoption leave for same sex couples the same as opposite sex couples.


About Mercer
Mercer is a global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Mercer helps clients around the world advance the health, wealth and performance of their most vital asset—their people. Mercer’s more than 20,000 employees are based in 43 countries and the firm operates in over 140 countries. Mercer is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), a global professional services firm offering clients advice and solutions in the areas of risk, strategy and people. With 57,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue exceeding $13 billion, Marsh & McLennan Companies is also the parent company of Marsh, a leader in insurance broking and risk management;; Guy Carpenter, a leader in providing risk and reinsurance intermediary services; and Oliver Wyman, a leader in management consulting. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @MercerAu