Family-Friendly Workplace Policies and Practices

Family-inclusive workplace practices are operating methods and organisational structures that allow employees to balance their work commitments with family responsibilities.  No matter the combination, family-friendly workplace policies and practices enable parents and carers to balance the competing demands of family and career while contributing to National diversity and inclusion efforts.

Family Friendly policies contribute to:

  • Improved wellbeing outcomes for employees, their children and other loved ones they care for
  • Greater workforce participation of those with caring responsibilities
  • Reduced carer-related discrimination
  • Enhanced workplace productivity and engagement
  • Improved gender equality outcomes
  • Fostering a safe and inclusive workplace culture

In Australia, there are several policies and practices that employers can provide to support parents and carers in navigating the challenges of parenthood while pursuing their professional ambitions.

So what do you look for when researching organisations in your job search?

Here are some of the more popular and widely offered policy types to keep an eye out for.

Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Policies: Paid Parental Leave (PPL) is a fundamental policy designed to provide financial assistance to new parents during the crucial early stages of their child’s life. In Australia, the government offers a statutory PPL scheme, providing eligible employees with up to 20 weeks of pay at the national minimum wage. However, employers can go above and beyond by offering extended or topped-up PPL benefits as part of their employee contracts. If you plan on having more children in the future, researching the PPL policy with the organisation you are considering will help provide peace of mind.

Unpaid parental leave: Most Australian employees are entitled to a certain period of unpaid leave when they become new parents. Employers can also offer the option for additional periods of unpaid leave in recognition that there are times when older children, not only newborns, need a parent to be fully present.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Flexibility is key for working parents juggling childcare responsibilities and professional obligations. Many organisations are still finding ways of making it work for them, so diving into it in more detail and having it documented will go a long way in helping you balance their work and family commitments effectively.

Childcare Support: Access to affordable and high-quality childcare is essential for working parents. Employers can play a crucial role in supporting their employees by offering childcare options or subsidies as part of their employee contracts. Whether through on-site childcare facilities or financial assistance for external childcare services, employers can alleviate the financial burden and stress associated with finding suitable childcare arrangements. This is a less common policy, particularly for smaller organisations.

Supportive Workplace Culture: Creating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture for everyone is essential for any workplace policy to work. Do your research on how employers are engaged and supported by the organisation and if initiatives such as employee resource groups for parents, mentorship programs, and flexible scheduling options exist. By embedding a commitment to supporting parents and carers as part of their culture rather than just a policy, employers signal their dedication to fostering a workplace where all employees can thrive.

Health and Wellbeing Support: Parenthood can take a toll on mental and physical health, making it essential for employers to prioritise employee wellbeing. PLook for demonstrated access to health and wellbeing programs, including mental health support and wellness initiatives, specifically those that directly benefit working parents and carers.


By researching these key policies in your next job search, you’ll be sure to find a supportive and inclusive work environment where parents can thrive both personally and professionally.

Our friends at Parents At Work, together with UNICEF Australia have developed National work and family standards to provide employers with a benchmark of best practice guidelines to support employees meet their work, family and wellbeing needs, and certify employers as a ‘Family Inclusive Workplace.’ You can find out more about the certified organisations here as a starting point to finding one that supports your requirements, many of which advertise on our jobs board too.