Pregnancy prejudice pervasive

Kim Macdonald

Pregnancy-related discrimination in the workplace is pervasive and systemic, according to a report that shows half of mothers and a quarter of fathers experience the problem.

The Australian Human Rights Commission report, which surveyed 3000 parents and a range of employers, showed 49 per cent of mothers experienced discrimination during pregnancy, maternity leave or on their return to work, mostly in relation to pay and duties.

A fifth were made redundant, had their jobs restructured or did not have their contract renewed.

The report includes results from the first comprehensive survey of fathers and partners.

It showed 27 per cent suffered discrimination when requesting parental leave or tending to parental responsibilities. This was mostly through a negative effect on pay and duties and the attitudes from management and colleagues.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said the limited pool of affordable child care added to the challenges of negative stereotypes.