Inflation hits Bunnings sausage sizzle

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Inflation hits the Bunnings sausage sizzle, super news for recipients of paid parental leave, and the sneaky ways inequity creeps into the workplace. Here are five things you may have missed this week.  

Inflation hits the Bunnings sausage sizzle

You know the cost-of-living crisis is real when you go to Bunnings on the weekend and find the drink you usually buy to go with your sausage sambo has gone up from $1.50 to $2.

inflation hits bunnings sausage sizzle

The price rise applies to canned drinks and bottled water but, thankfully, the price of a sausage in bread (with or without onions) will remain the same at $3.50.

Bunnings has been providing community groups and not-for-profits the chance to raise funds at volunteer-run BBQs at their stores for 25 years.

All funds raised go directly to the community group running the BBQ on the day. While Bunnings provides the gazebo, trestle table and barbecue equipment, the community group supplies the food and drinks.

According to Bunnings, community groups have been reporting a decline in funds raised due to the increased cost of goods required to run the BBQ, and requested the drink price rise - in other words, there's no need to boycott Bunnings just yet.

BankWest goes fully online 

Popping down to the bank in your lunch hour will be a thing of the past if you're a Bankwest customer, following the decision by CommBank (which owns Bankwest) to close 45 of its 60 branches.

The 15 remaining branches, located in regional areas of Western Australia, will be rebranded under the Commonwealth Bank banner. Bankwest says 97% of its customers' transactions are now being made digitally, so it makes sense to take the bank online.

Not all customers are happy with the news, however, with some claiming the move disadvantages elderly and disabled people. Bankwest says customers needing to transact or enquire about their bank balance in person can do so at an Australia Post outlet.

The Bank@Post initiative allows customers of more than 80 banks to do their banking at Australia Post.

Industry welcomes news of paid super on parental leave

With the news that superannuation will be paid on the 20 weeks of government-funded parental leave from July next year, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) says "it's about bloody time".

"This milestone announcement will deliver a huge boost to equity in the superannuation system," said ASFA CEO Mary Delahunty.

"For too long, women have retired with significantly fewer savings on average than men as a result of taking time off work, or working reduced hours to have and raise children."

The median superannuation balance in June 2021 for those aged 60 to 64 was around $212,000 for males and $159,000 for females, which equates to a retirement savings gap between women and men of 25%.

"A new generation of women who receive the full benefit of the Superannuation Guarantee payment on their Government Paid Parental Leave stand to add thousands to their retirement balances," Delahunty says.

The Parenthood CEO Georgie Dent says the announcement sends a powerful message that raising children is a valuable undertaking that deserves to be supported and compensated.

"This is a game-changer for families across Australia," she says.

A 12% superannuation payment on the Commonwealth's Paid Parental Leave scheme, currently paid at the rate of $852 per week for 24 weeks, amounts to about $2500 being paid into super for families while on paid parental leave. In 30 years, with an average return on super, that investment will be close to $30,000.

Workplace inequality goes beyond pay

The gender pay gap may be shrinking but women in the Australian workforce face an ongoing challenge in the workforce: unequal access to learning and development initiatives.

According to research by employment agency Ranstad, more women than men believe that learning and development opportunities are important (72% of women vs 66% of men), yet men are more likely than women (55% of men vs 46% of women) to receive assistance from their employer to develop the skills required to futureproof their careers (such as training in AI).

Ranstad reports that men are also more likely to have received training and development opportunities over the past 6 months (37% of men vs 29% of women).

This gap is exacerbated by the fact that men are more likely to leave a job that doesn't give them opportunities to futureproof their careers (34% of men vs 23% of women).

Randstad executive general manager Angela Anasis says concealed barriers and implicit biases like these silently hinder women's advancement in the workplace and contribute to gender inequality and underrepresentation in the workforce.

The library pressing paws on late fees

Libraries everywhere are going easier on people who are late returning their books, but perhaps more libraries should take a leaf out of Worcester Public Library's book and remove or reduce fines for those who accidentally lose or damage borrowed items.

Throughout March the library in the US state of Massachusetts cleared fines sitting in the accounts of borrowers who had book mishaps if they showed up at the library and showed a photo of their cat.

Those who didn't have a cat could show a photo of a friend's cat or even a cat they didn't know. Nice.

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Joanna Tovia is a senior journalist at Money magazine. She is the former personal finance editor of The Daily Telegraph and author of Eco-Wise & Wealthy, a book about saving money by going green at home. She has worked as a journalist in the US, UK and Australia writing about money, travel, design and wellbeing. Connect with her on LinkedIn.