ING Newsroom

COVID-19 Magnifies The Need For Parental Leave Equality

Published on 21/09/2020

New research by ING shows the COVID pandemic has heightened the parental leave challenges Aussie parents face

The COVID-19 pandemic has further enhanced the challenges faced by parents with new babies, with over two thirds (67%) saying they need their partner on parental leave to share responsibilities during the COVID period, according to new research from ING.

Parents surveyed say: limited contact with family and friends (65%), the feeling of isolation while raising a baby (59%) and a lack of ‘down time’ from parenthood (56%) have all contributed to them needing more support from their partners.

The research, which surveyed parents who have been on parental leave during the COVID pandemic, marks a year since ING became the first bank in Australia to give employees equal paid parental leave, removing references to ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ carers in its parental leave policy.

ING’s Head of Retail Banking, Melanie Evans says:

“The COVID pandemic has amplified the need for parental leave equality in Australia, but this is by no means a new issue and one we know Aussie families need addressed.”

“One year ago we launched an industry leading parental leave policy to give both parents an equal 14 weeks of paid parental leave. We did this to remove the stigma associated with parental leave and to acknowledge that each family is different and needs more flexibility in order to juggle the range of challenges that come with welcoming a child into the family.”

“Today, the number of ING fathers taking more than two weeks parental leave has increased fourfold since this industry leading policy came into effect in September 2019.”

Despite new parenting challenges posed by the pandemic, there have also been unexpected benefits for parents as workplaces better understand the challenges of family life. A third of fathers say their boss is “more understanding” of their parental responsibilities (35%) and believe their colleagues are “more compassionate” after seeing their family life on video calls (33%).

“Perhaps the silver lining of the pandemic is the fact it has helped improve the understanding of what it’s like to juggle work while raising a  family in Australia and encouraged more employers to flex according to the needs of working parents and carers,” says Evans.

ING case study

ING Customer Care Specialists, Blake Walsh and Heather Burrows welcomed their first child Finn in August 2019 and have used the new policy to help them adjust to their new family life.

Heather Burrows says:

“One of our priorities is for Finn to have a healthy mix of male and female role models in his life. We want him to grow up knowing that men and women are equal and for him to see mum and dad sharing the parenting responsibilities.”

“I took more time than expected to recover after having Finn and we actually don’t know how we would have managed those first couple of months had we both not been around 100% of the time.”

Blake Walsh says:

“Both having 14 weeks paid parental leave has also meant we haven’t had the additional financial stresses that many new families experience.”

“I chose to use half my leave at the beginning and the rest now to help the family adjust as Heather returns to work. With COVID it’s been handy to have that leave available as we can’t send Finn to day care if he has any mild cold-like symptoms, which seem to be part and parcel of being a baby at day care.”

ING research also revealed:

  • Parenting guilt:  Partners of primary caregivers felt torn between work and family commitments during COVID-19 (40%) and that the leave they had was not enough to support their partner after their baby was born (33%).
  • COVID-19 concerns: Over half of new Aussie parents are challenged by limited exposure to other parents with babies (56%) and concerned about being unable to source essential baby items due to panic buying (51%).
  • Lack of down time: Almost half say they haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy alone time away from the baby (45%) and a quarter say they’ve limited time with their partner (26%).
  • Flexi work: COVID-19 has positively changed the perception of flexible working, with a quarter of parents having enjoyed being able to work from home and spend more time with family (27%). Three in 10 fathers have also said a more flexible workplace has made them more likely to ask for paid parental leave in the future (29%).


 Notes to editors

Full report can be downloaded here: ING parental leave research report

This research was commissioned by ING and conducted by FiftyFive5 in August 2020. The sample comprises 400 Australians that have been on parental leave during the COVID-19 pandemic (March – August 2020). .

For more information contact Megan Landauro on 0413 317 225 or

 About ING

ING changed the way Australians bank 20 years ago by launching the country’s first branchless bank. ING now offers Australians award winning home loans, transactional banking, superannuation, credit cards, personal lending, insurance and wholesale banking services.

ING is Australia’s most recommended bank according to RFi XPRT Survey February 20 – July 20 (n = 4,067) when compared to customers of 20 other banks operating in Australia. It is also Australia’s fifth largest main financial institution with 6% of market share according to RFi XPRT Survey, January – June 2020 (n=31,562).

ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24000893292 AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823. Information in this media release is general information only and we have not taken your financial circumstances, objectives, needs or requirements into consideration.

About ING’s paid parental policy:

All ING employees who have been employed for 12 months or longer are now eligible for 14 weeks paid parental leave upon the birth or adoption of their child. This leave may be taken in one block or flexibly over a two year period after birth.


Media Enquiries

David Breen
Head of Corporate Affairs
0412 933 060

Megan Landauro
Public Relations Manager
0413 317 225

60 Margaret Street
Sydney NSW 2000

© Copyright 2021 ING.
ING is a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292 AFSL/ACL 229823.
ING’s colour orange is a trade mark of ING and the ING Group of companies.