The Member for Bennelong Maxine McKew has encouraged local small businesses to apply for grants of up to $15,000 to help better balance work and family responsibilities for themselves and their employees.
“Eligible small businesses with less than 15 employees can apply for the grants under the Rudd Government’s $12 million Fresh Ideas for Work and Family Grants Program,” said Ms McKew.
“This second round of grants under Fresh Ideas for Work and Family will help businesses implement the kind of flexible working arrangements that will help them retain their valuable staff, reduce turnover costs, increase productivity and improve staff morale and customer satisfaction.”
“Fresh Ideas for Work and Family grants give small business owners and their employees an opportunity to work together to address work and family issues, and allow them to bring about practical solutions to address the challenges they face.”
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Julia Gillard, and Special Adviser for Work and Family Balance and Pay Equity, Senator Jacinta Collins, have just opened applications for the second round grants under the program.
Successful recipients of grants in Round 1 of this program put in place practices like agreements between employees and employers for flexible working hours or agreements that allowed some employees to work from home to spend time with their kids. Some businesses installed family rooms within their offices.
“The Rudd Government recognises that small businesses will be a key driver of social inclusion and equity by supporting family-friendly initiatives,” said Ms McKew.
“I know there are many local small businesses that appreciate the help the Government is offering employers and employees.”
Andrew Bland who runs BlandsLaw in North Ryde is applying for a grant.
“As an owner of a small business that has at its heart a family friendly workplace, I can say that it is a big contributor to our success,” said Mr Bland.
“I employ 5 working mums in a staff of 7 people. We arrange work around the
“Staff are able to contribute to the workforce, without feeling like they are missing out on raising the children, and I find that when they are at work, the efficiency and productivity levels are enhanced.”
“We have found that there is a large number of mothers who want to work, but not full time, and who are attracted to a business that allows them to balance work and home life.”
Ms McKew said the new Fair Work system was also providing all working families with access to a number of entitlements to help them balance work and family.
• 12 months unpaid parental leave for new parents – one of the ten legislated National Employment Standards which came into effect on 1 January this year. Like annual leave, public holidays and redundancy pay, unpaid parental leave is guaranteed to all employees covered by the new national Fair Work system.
• A parent’s right to request flexible work arrangements like returning to work part time or an additional 12 months unpaid leave to help care for children under school age. The ‘right to request’ will help Australia maximise workforce participation and ensure employers can retain skilled and experienced employees in the future. An employer can refuse a request on ‘reasonable business grounds’ but must provide their reasons for the refusal in writing. A refusal without reasons is insufficient.”
The Rudd Government is also introducing legislation for a government-funded paid parental leave scheme later this year.
Applications for the second funding round of the Fresh Ideas for Work and Family grants close on 31 March 2010.
To apply for a grant, small businesses can go to www.deewr.gov.au/freshideas to complete the online application form or call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 (open 8.00am–6.00pm, Monday to Friday) for further information.