10 May 2023

Rio Tinto boosts parental leave scheme for workers

| Matt Nicholls
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Rio Tinto Weipa’s Lachy Johnson with his children Baie and Winifred.

IN a move that will likely have major benefits to Weipa families, Rio Tinto has introduced a new parental leave scheme that benefits both parents if they work for the mining company.

Last week, Rio Tinto announced it would improve minimum global paid parental leave standards for its employees, by removing distinctions between primary and secondary carers so that all new parents are eligible for 18 weeks paid parental leave.

The improvements, which recognise parents have shared parenting responsibilities, will also include full pension contributions during periods of unpaid or reduced-pay parental leave.

“These new parental leave standards are part of our commitment to fostering a more inclusive, fulfilling and diverse workplace that is fairer for everyone,” said Kellie Parker Rio Tinto’s Australia chief executive.

“Every parenting situation is different, and these changes are designed to provide greater flexibility to our employees to meet their families’ needs, regardless of gender or parental situation, as well as improving employee and family wellbeing.”

Under the new standards, which are effective from June 13, any employee who becomes a parent, including by adoption or surrogacy, will be eligible for 18 weeks paid parental leave within the first two years of birth or adoption.

The benefits will be rolled out over the course of 2022-23.

Where both parents work for Rio Tinto, both will be eligible for paid parental leave and can take it at the same time if it better suits the family’s needs. The decision has been welcomed by local parents.

Under the new standards, employees will have the option of up to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave including their paid leave.

“In addition to the immediate benefits, an important long-term part of these changes is helping ensure our employees are ready for retirement,” said James Martin, Rio Tinto’s chief people officer.

“We hope that by providing full pension contributions during periods of unpaid parental leave or reduced hours, we can start to close the gender pension gap.”

Rio currently offers 18 weeks of paid parental leave to employees designated as a child’s primary caregiver and one week’s paid leave for secondary caregivers.

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