Category Archives: Work

Would working from home make your life easier?

My friend Lindy Edwards has a terrific piece in The Age discussing the importance of working from home for making all of our lives easier.  She writes:

Once upon a time men did the paid work and women did society’s unpaid work.  When women entered the paid workforce our consumption expectations increased  and so did our mortgages. Now, for many families, the response to increasing  financial pressures is for mum to work more hours.

But the problem of unpaid work remains, and is growing as people are caught  looking after both elderly parents and young children.  The crunch is hitting  women the hardest. It is putting them under enormous strain, and the whole  family is feeling  the pressure

She says working from home would solve a lot of these problems for many families.

These days a lot of unpaid work is also time-critical rather than  time-intensive.  It is about being there at the right time for the school  pick-up, the medical appointment, when the plumber is coming, or to put on the  washing.

I couldn’t agree with her more.  I’m very lucky to work from home one day a week.  Avoiding a commute automatically gives me an extra hour in the  morning, which I spent exercising and an extra hour in the evening, which I get to spend with Miss Nearly 4.

It also takes the ‘pressure valve’ off our daily lives on a regular basis.  When it rains at the weekand there’s a load of washing we didn’t get through, I hang it out on Tuesdays.  I can collect something at our local post office, and get a haircut during my lunch break.  None of this detracts from my work – and in fact having a day at home to read or write longer documents can make me enormously productive.

It doesn’t work for every job – and there have been weeks when fitting in the meetings in my in-the-office days have been tricky.  I had to come into the office yesterday for a meeting with an interstate visitor, but on the whole it works brilliantly and makes our two working parents scenario much smoother.

You can read the rest of Lindy’s ideas here.

Do you work from home?  Do you wish you could?

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The Schoolkids Bonus – paid this week into the bank accounts of eligible families

This January, parents of the 1.3million school aged children who meet income test requirements will receive half of a new payment designed to help families with school costs.

From 9 to 22 January eligible families will receive, directly into their bank accounts:

– $205 for each primary student (with another $205 paid in July) and
– $410 for each secondary student (with another $410 paid in July).

The Schoolkids Bonus replaces the old Education Tax Refund but there’s no need to collect receipts or claim it through your tax.

Handy if you’re buying school shoes, uniforms or getting kids haircuts this week.  Judging by the chaos at my local store, pretty much everyone in Australia is doing exactly that right now..

You need to be receiving an eligible payment, which for most people means Family Tax Benefit A.  If you’re not receiving Family Tax Benefit Part A, you can find out if you’re eligible here.

Note that if you receive your Family Tax Benefit as a lump sum at the end of the year, you will receive your payment then, so don’t panic if it’s not there now.

While you’re at it, there is also quite a good online estimator to help you work out eligibility for any other family payments here.

The good news is that if you think you’re eligible but haven’t applied yet, you won’t get the money this week but you can still register your children and receive the payment here.

Note that while it’s *technically* possible to do this all online, we find the website very clunky and difficult to use, as opposed to collecting an paper copy of the form from your local DHS Service centre or Medicare office.

It may not cover a round of school shoes and uniforms for everyone, but every little bit helps!

Do you go home on time?

Are you one of the 2.2million Australians who left for work this morning with no idea what time you will leave tonight?

Or are you the working mum who sneaks out the door on time because you have to race to day care before they start fining you for not getting there before 6pm, while resentful colleagues note that you are ‘leaving early’?

Being in either of these groups isn’t much fun.

Working late – and being expected to – isn’t fun or reasonable for anybody.

Even when we think we’ll leave on time, more than one million of us get it wrong and stay an extra half an hour, and a further 1.2 million report staying more than one hour, according to new research from The Australia Institute, which runs Go Home On Time Day

The Australia Institute’s Executive Director Dr Richard Denniss said over the past twenty years we have heard a lot about workplace ‘flexibility’, but the problem for many workers is that child care, train timetables and life’s other commitments aren’t that flexible.

According to Dr Denniss:

This new data shows why so many Australians find it difficult to juggle their work life and the rest of their life. Working long, or very unpredictable, hours can place a lot of strain on people’s relationships as well as their physical and mental health.

The survey found that around 3.2 million Australians experience stress or anxiety as a result of their working arrangements, with 2.9 million experiencing a loss of sleep and 2.2 million reporting adverse impacts on their ability to meet family commitments.

Check out this great infographic.

If symptoms persist, take a dose of Go Home on Time Day. Love it.

Managing working time is one of our Five Ways Working Mums Can Take Better Care Of Their Mental Health which you can read all about here.

Do you go home on time?

If you do, are you often first out the door at your workplace?

Kirsten

 

 

 

Breaking news: nearly half of Australian mums back at work before their youngest turns one

A report in The Australian today says that almost half of all mums in two-parent families are back at work before their youngest child turns one.

Is this true for you?

Is this why it is impossible to find a child care place for kids aged 0-2?

The story, written by George Megalogenis and Sophie Gosper, also says almost all the mothers who went back to work in this period took part-time jobs with fewer than 25 working hours a week.

You can read the full piece here but you need a subscription to The Australian to read it in full, so here are the key points:

  • The trend for mothers returning to work has accelerated in line with higher rates of female education and rising property prices.
  • This generation of women have jobs worth going back to and the typical mortgage requires two incomes to service.
  • In the mid 1980s, the majority of mothers in two-parent families waited until their youngest child was three before returning to work.
  • In the mid 1990s, the benchmark had fallen to two years.
  • About two-thirds of mothers with jobs are employed part-time while their children are in preschool.
  • By age three, though, more than half the working mothers are in full-time work. Sole parents are the exception to this pattern.
  • Most are still at home when the youngest child is aged 4-5.

Do these figures represent your family, and your choices?

If your family part of an Australian trend?

If you are new to Working Mums Australia and interested in more about part-time work, you may be interested in the personal stories of Juliet, Tamara and Kellie, who featured in our series on part time work a while ago.

They shared their stories, choices and influences to help us all work out a way to muddle through this challenging set of decisions  🙂

Were you listening to Julia thinking “I wish I’d said that”?

It seems everyone’s still talking about Julia Gillard’s speech .

I’ve never seen such different responses from the mainstream media and sites on the internet where women like to chat, the so called ‘mummy blogs’.

In the mainstream media, the Prime Minister spoke in defence of the Speaker, Peter Slipper, who has since resigned. According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher, We expected more of Gillard.  His general argument was that, as a woman, she had a choice between power and principle and she opted for power.  My view is that expecting women to behave ‘better’ or ‘more nicely’ as politicians is in itself a form of sexism, in presuming that women should be better behaved than men, when really all they want is an equal chance to have their say.

Most of the other newspapers yesterday reported on the political tactics of what was going on with the Speaker and didn’t focus on the main topic covered in the Prime Minister’s speech – the sexism of the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott.

Notwithstanding the fact that what goes on with the Speaker is important, the response on many of my favourite websites couldn’t be more different.  Many women expressed an outpouring of relief that the PM had finally called sexism where she saw it.

Eden Riley is the Australian Blogger of the Year.  Her site Edenland is full of comments about how women across Australia were barracking for her right the way through.  You can check out the discussion here .

Mamamia saw something similar, in response to this piece about, ‘Why Julia Gillard’s Smackdown Speech Was Brilliant .  There were some critics, but overwhelmingly the comments are supportive of the PM’s speech.  Not bad for a Prime Minister who, according to the polls, only has the support of about one in three of us.

Why the difference? My theory is that most of us have a Tony Abbott in their lives, somewhere in our work history.

Someone who’s treated us poorly, unfairly, because we are women.  Most of us don’t call sexism every time we see it, but we really love it when someone else is brave enough to do so, and clever enough to do it well.

When it happens to us, we usually don’t want to make a fuss or have a fight about being a crazy feminist, so we just put up with being called a bitch or having the men in our workplace be more highly valued than those of us who came up with the idea in the first place, or did the hard work behind the scenes to make something happen.

It’s not always as clear cut as some of those quotes Julia Gillard used about Tony Abbott.  Sometimes sexism is harder to pinpoint, and we’re not even sure ourselves that it’s sexism, discrimination, or misogyny or whatever.

But we know it’s wrong, and we wish it hadn’t happened, and many of us see it happening to Julia Gillard too.

Regardless of what you think about politics, I suspect many women loved seeing  our Prime Minister say out loud that she was offended by behaviour and language she thought wasn’t acceptable, and she eloquently put the argument, better than many of us could ourselves.

I heard a story from a one friend about a woman who wanted to thank the PM  because she felt there was growing acceptance in the community of more aggressive and rude interactions. She said a man once called her a stupid bitch because she delivers newspapers to supplement her low income and he hadn’t liked where she’d thrown it that morning.

She said the PM was standing up not just for herself, but for women across the country who have been copping things like that because lately, no-one has been saying that kind of thing is wrong.

Do you think some of us were listening to the PM thinking, “I wish I’d said that”?

What do you think?  Have you experienced sexism at work?  Do you wish you’d given a speech like Julia Gillard?

Interesting sidenote: once the international reaction started to become clear today, our local media started reporting the substance of the speech, for example here and here.  Curious.

You can read the full text of the PM’s speech here but the video is better, here.

Dad and partner pay – will your family benefit?

Today the Australian Government announced applications are now open for Dad and Partner Pay.

Never heard of it?  Well, it’s an extension of the Paid Parental Leave scheme and means government support for dads and partners to get two weeks paid leave at the rate of the national minimum wage (currently about $606 per week before tax), if you have a baby or adopt after 1 January, 2013.

You could be eligible if you work full-time, part-time, casually, seasonally, on contract, or if you’re self-employed.

Here’s the fine print. You may be eligible if:

  • You are the biological dad, adopting parent or partner of the birth mother or adopting parent and;
  • You are an Australian resident who has worked for at least 10 of the 13 months before the date your Dad and Partner Pay period starts, and;
  • Your individual adjusted taxable income is $150 000 or less in the financial year either before the date of your claim.

Dads can be eligible for Dad and Partner Pay even if their partner is not receiving Paid Parental Leave and you can read all of the details here.

The Australian Government hopes this will support families in the first year of a chld’s life, and encourage more dads to take time off to spend with their kids.  Excellent stuff.

They say that the move is a particularly big win for self-employed people, contractors, casual workers and others who generally don’t have paternity leave entitlements from their employer.

You’re still likely to be better off with your employer’s parental leave scheme, if you’re lucky enough to be work for someone that has one.  But for everyone else, this is a good start.

I wonder how many dads will take it?  I suspect lots of dads would prefer to spend more time with their kids when they’re first born, but feel lots of pressure to continue providing for the family, especially when mum is recovering from childbirth. Hopefully this will make it a bit easier.

If you’re  already registered with the Department of  Human Services for online services, you can logon and apply from there, or you can register here.   You can apply in person at Centrelink or Medicare offices or call 136 150.

Kirsten

Six options for mums with sick kids

We’ve been fairly lucky this winter (touch wood nervously), but when Miss Three is sick, things get pretty tense in our house.  Negotiations about who has the most critical meetings and deadlines at work occur.  There are thin lips all round.

Like a lot of families, we have no real backup plan.  Our parents live too far away and missing a day’s work can seem like a crisis.  It’s usually worse for Miss Three than it is for us, but at the time it feels like a disaster.

The other challenge is that, when kids are sick, it’s usually going around in the family, so you’re probably struggling with something too.  But there’s no sick leave as a mum, right?

Coping with Jane has published these tips on Four ways to avoid a sick child in day-care which has some good ideas, but there are times when none of them work, and you just need to get by.

Here are your options.

OPTION NUMBER ONE

Force your kids to get up and ready for day care.  Often a bit of a false economy as the carers are pretty expert at spotting a sick kid and will whip out that thermometer and call you home by mid-morning.   The rules are often that they have to stay away for 24 hours after being sent home, so you may have turned one sick day into two.

OPTION NUMBER TWO

Call someone – anyone – to look after your sick kid(s).  Mums, neighbours, friends, paid babysitters, can all come into their own at around 7am on a sick day.  A paid babysitter can earn more than you do, so this can also be a false economy.

OPTION NUMBER THREE

Try and do it all.  Call your employer and explain, offer to work from home, and then, if your work allows it, log in and try and get as much done as you can.  This method usually involves using a television as a babysitter, or taking calls with a child whingeing in the background.  In many jobs, and for many employers, it’s also not allowed.

OPTION NUMBER FOUR

If you are one of the very fortunate, use one of your carer days as a leave day and explain to your employer that your child is sick and you will not be at work today. They understand and know that their flexibility will be appreciated by less time goofing off at work and a more engaged and loyal workforce.

OPTION NUMBER FIVE

Try and get your husband or partner to do one or all of the above.

OPTION NUMBER SIX

Lie and pretend it’s you who is sick so your employer doesn’t regret employing a working mum and just thinks you’re always ill.

Have you used any of these strategies?

Kirsten