The Senate Select Committee on Work and Care (Work and Care Committee) was appointed on 3 August 2022 to examine the impact of caring obligations on workers. Chaired by Greens Senator, Barbara Pocock, the Work and Care Committee is likely to consider a range of issues such as the adequacy of workplace laws in supporting work and care, the experiences of carers, the availability of childcare, and the impact caring arrangements have on different groups, including women, people with a disability and First Nations people.
The Work and Care Committee is expected to present an interim report based on the Terms of Reference by 18 October 2022 and a final report by the second sitting Tuesday in February 2023. Submissions to the Work and Care Committee closed 22 September 2022.
Ai Group has made a submission arguing:
- Policy objectives to support work and care should focus on sustained workforce participation by carers accompanied by appropriate levels of labour market flexibility, evolving remote working arrangements, diverse forms of employment and flexible work arrangements.
- Section 65 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) must be preserved to ensure it provides a facilitative framework for employers and employees to discuss an employee request for a change to working arrangements in a way that recognises the reasonable business grounds of the employer.
- Australia’s safety net of terms and conditions of employment does not presently meet the needs of contemporary workplaces with high levels of flexibility and remote working arrangements. Many modern awards, for example, provide barriers to flexible working arrangements by regulating working hours so they must be worked continuously. This is a barrier to employees who have caring commitments, such as those that seek breaks from work to pick up children from school.
- Reform is needed for not just more affordable, but more accessible early childhood education and care (ECEC). Many households are locked out of ECEC because their working arrangements cannot be accommodated by the locations and hours of operation of centre-based care. New models of ECEC are needed.
- That the Federal Government consider the impact of government-funded paid parental payment schemes to address enduring levels of inequity between men and women in caring arrangements for infants.