Woolworths has today announced that it is introducing superannuation contributions for 12 months of parental leave for its employees.
The supermarket giant is the first Australian retailer to do so and hopes the move will close the superannuation gender gap, which is estimated to be at around 46 per cent.
Over half of Woolworths’ 190,000 team members are female so the new superannuation policy is expected to make a significant difference to employees’ retirement savings.
“Almost 5,000 of our team members take parental leave every year and we don’t believe they should be disadvantaged in retirement for doing so. We know Australian women are retiring with a lot less super than men. As one of the country’s largest private employers we want to play our part in closing the gap. We hope it’ll help create an even more inclusive workplace at Woolworths, where all team members can enjoy the same rewards, resources and opportunities, regardless of gender,” Woolworths Group chief people officer, Caryn Katsikogianis said.
Woolworths reviewed salaries of about 18,000 employees from 2016 to 2017, leading to salary adjustments of 29 per cent of staff. This move reduced the salary gap to an average of 0.5 per cent between males and females in the same roles.
Rest chief Executive Officer Vicki Doyle welcomed the announcement from Woolworths today.
“Rest has been a long-term advocate of measures that ensure women have an equal opportunity to achieve financial security in retirement. We welcome Woolworths’ announcement. We know from Rest research into the impact of career breaks on superannuation, that women who take a career break are predicted to retire with an average superannuation balance of $283,000 less than their male counterparts. We believe this important measure will help improve the retirement outcomes for thousands of women,” Doyle said.
SDA national assistant secretary, Julia Fox, said the move by Woolworths is a “crucial step” towards closing the gender pay gap.
“SDA, the union for retail workers, welcomes these improvements for Woolworths employees as a crucial step towards closing the unfair gender pay gap. The SDA has long advocated for super payments to be paid on parental leave, both paid and unpaid, because it helps provide a fairer superannuation system for women working at Woolworths who deserve security and dignity in retirement,” Fox said.
The Woolworths Group’s parental leave benefits now covers increased paid parental leave for primary caregivers; a new secondary caregiver offering; a new parental leave support program delivered by Grace Papers and working parents to navigate family, career and transition back to work. The supermarket giant’s latest move also includes personalised coaching for workers and the additional superannuation benefits for team members up to 52 weeks, including unpaid leave.