She prepares and builds caravan cabinets and enjoys being on the factory floor: “I can just sort of free my mind when I’m there, it’s good to get out again,” she said.
Hollie McCluskey, whose children are aged three, six and seven, said Jayco’s 10am to 2pm shift was the only way she could go back to work without facing childcare bills that made working unviable.
“To be able to find some hours that suited me with the school drop-offs and pick-ups and daycare, so I could come in, do a shift and pick up the kids, makes it a no-brainer to contribute to the family [finances],” she said.
“My youngest is in occasional care 9.30am to 2.30pm, so there’s half an hour either side. Long daycare wasn’t affordable.”
Data released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in October showed Australia’s gender pay gap could be reduced by one-third – from 23.3 per cent to 15.6 per cent – if a gender split of 40 per cent women, 40 per cent men and 20 per cent any gender was achieved across all industries, meaning more women entering fields currently dominated by men.
Director Mary Wooldridge praised employers making it easier for women to participate, including smallgoods maker Don, which has also introduced a school-run-friendly shift.
Will Ursell, managing director of Don, said the company changed its rosters to add family-friendly options, in part to give people under-represented in the 1600-strong staff, such as mothers, a way in. It added a 9am to 3pm shift and a 5pm to 11pm shift at its regional factory.
He said giving people who may otherwise struggle with traditional eight-hour shifts access to work was “a huge source of pride for us”, and both 30-person shifts were filled quickly (though, like Jayco, Don is seeking more staff).
Emma Walsh, founder of the workplace consultancy Parents at Work, said the pandemic had “made visible what was previously invisible around work and care”.
“Traditionally, that’s been seen very much as an individual’s problem. You work out your family life, but this is the job requirement, you’re going to have to fit around,” she said.
“Now there’s a deeper understanding of, ‘Oh yes, caring is a job and you’re going to need some time to do that. How can we more mutually work to see how we can accommodate it?’”
The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.