Diversity Council Australia welcomes the release of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report examining the prevalence and nature of discrimination against pregnant employees and people returning to work after parental leave, and urges more employers to tackle the problem.
“Despite federal law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination for nearly thirty years, today’s report illustrates that the real life horror stories of women being sacked or made redundant whilst pregnant, on parental leave or soon after their return to work, are still far too common,” Lisa Annese, DCA’s Chief Executive Officer, said.
The report has found that almost a half (49%) of all mothers and over a quarter (27%) of the fathers and partners surveyed reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace during pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work.
This Report is the culmination of a year-long National Review, and importantly provides new baseline data on the extent, nature and consequences of discrimination in Australian workplaces related to pregnancy, parental leave and return to work following parental leave. The nationally representative survey was conducted by Roy Morgan Research on behalf of the Commission.
“What is perhaps most disturbing is that Commission’s Pregnant and Productive research was more than ten years ago and yet it seems that very little has improved for pregnant women and new parents in the labour market since then,” added Lisa.
“The stories in the Commission’s report illustrate the personal consequences that discrimination has for pregnant women, parents and their children. But discrimination also represents an enormous waste of talent – to Australian business and our national productivity. Research shows that mothers are consistently rated higher on management capability than their non-care-giving colleagues and that increasing the labour market participation of Australian mothers, offers one of the greatest opportunities to increase our nation’s productivity. It is estimated that removing disincentives for mothers to enter (and remain attached to) the paid workforce could increase the size of the Australian economy by about $25 billion per year,” said Lisa.
“Despite the widespread nature of this discrimination, the report highlights the innovative strategies being undertaken by many DCA members and other leading employers to support pregnant women and parents. Leading employers recognise the benefits of pro-actively preventing this type of workplace discrimination and all employers can learn from their approaches,” said Lisa.