Thursday, May 08, 2014

Data reveals discrimination against working mothers

Recent data compiled by the Australian Human Rights Commission reveals that the situation for working mothers, particularly new mothers returning to work, isn’t the pretty picture painted by card shops and florists on Mother’s Day.

Commenting on the Headline Prevalence Data - Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Sally Sievers said that one in two women in Australia reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace during their pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work.

“The most common types of discrimination women reported experiencing on returning to work after parental leave included negative comments about breast feeding, working part-time and being denied requests to work flexibly.

“In my experience, working mothers are a great value in the work place, they are generally focussed, and task orientated and come to work to work. Unfortunately some working mothers feel that they need to prove their worth, so they don’t just do things competently, but do them extremely well.

“Employers and families need to understand women’s entitlements in this area. Women are legally entitled to twelve months unpaid parental leave if they have worked for an employer for twelve months or more continuous employment. They are also entitled to a return to work guarantee,” Ms Sievers said.

“Under Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Law even if employees do not meet these criteria, they should not to be treated less favourably in the work place because of pregnancy, breast feeding or parenthood. Employers have to seriously consider requests for flexible work arrangements to accommodate the needs of their employee’s parenting obligations.”

The Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commission, the NT Working Women’s Centre and the Fair Work Ombudsman all provide resources for employers and women to better understand their rights and obligations in relation to this matter.

“As we celebrate motherhood this weekend, I remind employers to consider the rights of our working mums and their right to work without discrimination.”

For information on the Australian Human Rights Commission Prevalence Data visit:

Media enquiries: Jeannette Button on 8941 9169 or 0407 727 080

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