Corrs Chambers Westgarth has announced that it is now making superannuation contributions to employees for both paid and unpaid parental leave.
With the new policy, which has been applied since 1 July, the top-tier independent firm will make contributions for a period of up to 12 months to employees taking either paid or unpaid primary-carers or secondary-carers leave.
The firm already gives 18 weeks paid leave for primary carers, and three weeks paid leave for secondary carers. Both the new superannuation policy and the paid-leave periods are best practice in Australia, the firm said.
“This initiative is a positive step towards achieving pay equity,” said Gavin McLaren, Corrs chief executive. “Payment of superannuation during periods of parental leave can make a significant difference to the retirement savings of employees who take time out of work during their careers to care for children. This is particularly true for women who are more often the primary caregivers during periods of parental leave.”
MacLaren, who succeeded John W.H. Denton AO when he stepped down in July, recently also became a Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Pay Equity Ambassador.
“I am committed to achieving gender equality in the workplace and, along with the firm’s leadership, will continue to ensure it is recognised as a priority within the firm,” he said. “Ultimately, a supportive and inclusive culture generates a diverse, engaged and high performing workforce.”
Libby Lyons, WGEA director, said that Australia’s retirement savings gap means women retire with an average of 40% less superannuation than men.
“Women should not incur a lifelong financial penalty for taking time off work to care for family. Corrs Chambers Westgarth is to be congratulated for taking this important step to improve the superannuation savings of their employees who are also working parents,” she said. “The fact that women shoulder the burden of unpaid caring work in our society is a major contributor to the gender pay gap, which currently sits at 30% in the legal sector. Only concerted action from employers will drive this figure down. By becoming a Pay Equity Ambassador, I’d like to thank Gavin MacLaren for taking action on pay equity and promoting the issue in the broader community.”