Up to 4.5 million Australians with caring responsibilities stand to benefit from the ACTU Work and Family Test Case which starts tomorrow, Wednesday 1 September.

Speaking in advance of the case, ACTU President Sharan Burrow said:

“This test case is about helping people achieve a better balance between work and family. Most workplaces are woefully out of touch with the needs of families today.

The ACTU estimates there are up to 4.5 million Australians in work who care for children or other family members. Around 2.7 million working people are parents or carers of pre-school children while more than half a million working people care for other family members.

The ACTU is seeking more flexible work arrangements for all families through changes to industrial awards. Key ACTU claims are:

  • Choice for parents to take unpaid leave from work for up to two years
    following the birth of child – an extension from the current one year
    entitlement to parental leave.
  • The option for full time employees returning from parental leave to return
    to work on a part-time basis until their child is at school.
  • Ability for employees to “buy” through ‘salary
    sacrificing’ up to six weeks a year extra annual leave that could be used
    for school holidays.
  • Flexible start and finish times so that parents and carers can pick up or
    deliver children to school or childcare.
  • The major employer groups ACCI, Ai Group as well as the Howard Government are opposing the ACTU claims.

    Working carers: ACTU estimate* (Aug 2004)

    % of workforce

    No. of people

    Have pre-school children



    Have older children



    Have other family members to care for



    Total – Have caring responsibilities



  • Based on Vic Govt figures – other sources suggest even higher no. of people
    care for relatives with a disability.
  • Media Conference – 9.30am Wednesday 1st September

    Aust. Industrial Relations Commission
    Nauru House, Level 39 – 80 Collins Street, Melbourne

    Sharan Burrow – ACTU President
    Cath Bowtell – ACTU Industrial Relations Officer
    Jai Badu – Currently balancing work and caring

    Media Contact: Susannah Greenleaf 0418 479 455