Charts: Australia's Tax System Could Be Discouraging Women From Returning To Work After Childbirth

Balancing act: Shutterstock

Family tax arrangements and high costs of childcare in Australia could be discouraging women from returning to work after childbirth, industry group CEDA has warned.

CEDA today released a 145-page report stating that women were being discriminated against in Australian workplaces.

Australian men are 13% more likely to be employed than women, which could cost the economy $25 billion a year, CEDA reported, citing Grattan Institute figures. Goldman Sachs has previously estimated the workforce gender gap to cost $195 billion.

CEDA members reported that the availability, quality and cost of childcare was a significant issue for working women, and called for the government to consider policy reforms around childcare and family benefit arrangements.

According to the report:

“Relative to other rich countries, Australia has a generous system of income-tested cash assistance for low- and middle-income families with children.

The use of joint family income as the basis of assessing entitlements … means that the tax-transfer system as a whole is not individually based, but is for a significant proportion of families with children a family-based system.

The progressive personal income tax system, combined with the withdrawal of family assistance, gives rise to high effective marginal tax rates.”

The report also recommends that companies conduct pay audits, adopt more flexible practices and educate employees on gender bias. It will be formally launched by Workplace Gender Equity Agency director Helen Conway later this morning.

Conway’s WGEA has encouraged organisations to adopt voluntary targets for employing women. It will introduce a ‘gender equality reporting framework’ in the coming financial year and develop industry benchmarks from the resulting data.

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