Lower childcare costs set to increase workforce involvement

Thursday 9 February, 2017

New childcare legisaltion has been welcomed by the Queensland small business community, with more women hopefully able to return to the workplace.

The Turnbull Government introduced the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017 on Wednesday which includes plans for childcare subsidies to assist parents in returning to work.

Alongside a number of other changes including increasing paid parental leave, watered-down cuts to the Family Tax Benefit and changes to welfare payments, the new Bill will be favourable among the business community for its positive impacts on higher workforce involvement and creating a more sustainable path to budget balance.

CCIQ Policy Advisor Catherine Pham said the Bill proposes measures some Queenslanders will find unfavourable, but believes the changes are a huge win for those who want to work but cannot afford crippling childcare costs.

“This Bill is a lifesaver for the many parents, especially mothers, who want to be active in the workplace, who want to pursue a career, who want to provide for their families and secure a future for their children," she said.

“The cost of childcare even after the Government’s rebate can easily exceed $15,000 a year, a cost comparable to tuition at some of Australia’s top private secondary schools.

“These exorbitant costs, which are only creeping higher, is a genuine deterrent for those wanting to re-enter into the workforce sooner particularly if they have multiple children.”

Ms Pham believes businesses will see a number of positive benefits such as lower staff turnover, gender equality and increased productivity.

“When more of our working population are active in the workplace, there are so many positive flow on effects for individuals, families, businesses and the economy. 

“There will be a higher rate of employees being able to commit to returning after parental leave, which will make it easier for business owners to plan for their absence.

“We know that unfortunately many women also face a number of issues when returning to the workforce after a prolonged period.

“Making it easier for women to pursue a career, earn an income, increase their wages, continue to contribute to their super while raising their family will make significant inroads to greater gender equality.

“It is a total, utter myth that just because you are a mother that you will be distracted and not as productive.

“A study by Ernst & Young found women working part-time are the most productive in the workforce, wasting the least amount of time at work of all workers.”

The Bill has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee and a report is due on 20 March 2017.


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