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This paper examines Australian fathers' use of leave at the time of the birth of a child, drawing on data from The Parental Leave in Australia Survey, conducted in 2005, and a subsequent organizational case study. Our analysis shows that although most Australian fathers take some leave for parental purposes, use of formally designated paternity or parental leave is limited. This is unsurprising given the Australian policy framework, which lacks legislative provision for paid paternity or parental leave, and does not require any of the shared unpaid parental-leave entitlement to be reserved for fathers. Use of leave is shown to be influenced primarily by fathers' employment characteristics, with those working in small organizations or non-permanent positions least likely to utilize paternity or other forms of leave. Overall, the analysis suggests that improvements in the policy framework would increase Australian fathers' propensity to take parental leave, but highlights barriers to usage associated with labour market divisions and career pressures that will not be solved solely by the adoption of more progressive leave policies.
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Keywords: Australia; employment; fathers; parental leave; paternity leave

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2007

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