One area of life that is different between Australia and Japan is when it comes to having a baby. In Australia, employees are entitled to up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave and have a right to return to their old job. Employees are able to take parental leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months.
Employees who are the primary carer of a newborn child get up to 18 weeks Parental Leave Pay(PLP) which is paid at the National Minimum Wage (about $3350/month AUD). The PLP is broken into two parts: the first period is a set period of 12 weeks within 12 months of the birth; the second period allows an employee to use up to 30 days of flexible PLP taken within 24 months of the birth.
Eligible working dads and partners get 2 weeks leave paid at the National Minimum Wage. However, only about 5% of fathers take paid parental leave as the primary carer and only 25% take any leave at all. Australian entitlements, while better than some countries, are well behind average among developed countries. There is currently some talk in the media and political circles about increasing it.
The above deals with government mandated parental leave. Many companies offer additional entitlements. Even a traditional employer like the The Australian Defence Force, one of the largest employers in Australia, offers fathers 1 month of paternity leave at full pay, or 2 months at half pay, instead of the government scheme. In this case, most fathers actually use this entitlement.
In doing research for this post, I was surprised to find that legally speaking, Japan has extremely generous parental leave entitlements for both men and women – 1 year off paid at 67-50% base salary for both partners! However, due to cultural reasons, most men don’t take much or any time off at all…