Pregnant women face widespread workplace discrimination, report finds

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The report, issued by the Australian Human Right Commission this morning, also found more than one in four fathers felt discriminated against during their partner’s pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work.


The Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review spoke to parents during more than 50 group consultations and almost 500 private phone calls, finding that “workplaces still overwhelmingly view working while pregnant as a privilege, not a right”.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said addressing the findings was a “human rights imperative”.

“It provides indisputable evidence that pregnancy/return to work discrimination continues to be widespread and has a cost – not just to women, working parents and their families – but also to workplaces and the national economy,” she said.

“… It’s a human issue first. Workplace discrimination has a damaging impact on the lives of parents. But by working together, we can achieve positive results for all.”

. #PregnancyReview boss told employee on return to work -‘sorry your maternity leave replacement now has your job

— AusHumanRights (@AusHumanRights) July 25, 2014

The report’s release coincides with $150,000 in funding to the Commission to help develop resources for employers on how to best manage and support working parents through pregnancy, parental leave, and on return to work.

Senator Larissa Waters welcomed the report, saying she would be seeking support from her colleagues in all parties to implement recommendations.

As Greens spokeswoman for women, Senator Waters said the report revealed “heartbreaking experiences of workplace discrimination”.

“Having a baby should be an exciting, joyous experience and sadly for half of Australian women who have fallen pregnant while working it has been marred by unlawful discrimination,” she said.

“Men are affected by this discrimination too, with a quarter of men who took parental leave reporting workplace discrimination.

“It’s shameful that Australian workplace cultures are denigrating the important roles both women and men play in having and raising children and it needs to stop.”