More child-care access outside of business hours is needed to accommodate growing numbers of shift workers, a leading business group claims.
The Australian Industry Group wants barriers to affordable and accessible childcare addressed to boost workforce participation and address skill shortages.
The group also again attacked the Abbott government's "gold plated" paid parental leave scheme, calling for it to be dumped in favour of directing the cash into childcare.
In a submission to a Productivity Commission inquiry on childcare, Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox warned against means testing the child-care rebate because it is an effective incentive for parents and carers to participate in the workforce.
"Any move to introduce means testing for this rebate would ... create a disincentive for parents to work or to increase their work hours once they get near to the means testing thresholds," he said.
Under Prime Minister Tony Abbott's parental leave plan, working women would get 26 weeks parental leave at full replacement wage up to a maximum annual salary of $150,000, plus superannuation.
The Ai Group does not support a proposed 1.5 per cent levy on business that would fund the PPL and wants Labor's scheme retained, which provides up to 18 weeks pay at the national minimum wage rate.
The business group's views on the means test were backed by a Mission Australia survey which found mothers would quit or reduce their working hours if child-care subsidies were cut.
Nearly half of the 650 parents and carers surveyed said they would reduce their work hours, while about one in five say they would stop working.
Mothers and children in the most disadvantaged areas would be worst hit, the study found.
One third of disadvantaged mums indicated they would quit the workforce and cut back on paid childcare, which would mean their children would miss out on early learning programs.
The findings are featured in Mission Australia's submission to a PC inquiry.