Do women feel pressured to hide their role of mum to potential employers for fear of discrimination?

Are they worried if they tell a future employer they have a baby or young kids at home, they won’t get the job?

Do employers secretly or overtly believe mums can’t do the long hours, they might take time off for a sick child, are juggling too much outside of work and therefore may burn out?

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, many women still feel discriminated in the workplace.


This Balanced Life – Mums at Work

Face the Facts: Australian Human Rights Commission report


What are the experiences of mothers on the frontline and what do employers have to say about this?

Are there laws to protect working mothers who need flexibility?

Finally, we want to hear from you about this topic – please use the comments section below and let us know what you think.

The Statistics  

According to an Australian Human Rights Commission study of 1,100 women, almost one in two mothers (49%) say they have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to parenting responsibilities.

The study revealed almost half of employers (46%) believe it is acceptable to ask women if they have young children during the hiring process, leading some to withhold the fact they have dependents.

Discriminating against mothers can cost employers dearly, with the study also noting that 32% of all mothers who were discriminated against looked for another job or resigned.

And while flexible work is available in many private and public organisations, the realities can be very different as we found out with our case study.

The Case Study

Finding employment with dependent children is a challenge administration officer and mother-of-two Katrina Schmidt knows well.

Katrina was rejected for jobs three times due to having dependant daughters aged six and eight despite being adequately qualified for such positions.  

Ms Schmidt, who has since found employment, told MyRecruitment+ she had progressed to the final round of interviews only to be knocked back after revealing she had children.

“My qualifications were perfect, but as soon as I mentioned I had young children who needed to be collected from school two afternoons a week, the whole tone of the interview changed.

“I told the organisations I wanted to take my lunch break between 2.30pm-3.30pm on those days, but it didn’t matter. I missed out on the job and I think that (having young children) is why.”

But despite these challenges, are things improving for working mothers?

Fortunately, the tide does seem to be turning for mothers in the workplace as confirmed by the Australian Human Rights Commission who told us such practices were on the decline.

In fact, the Australian Human Rights Commission research showed employers were becoming more flexible with meeting the needs of working mothers.

“A growing number of organisations are recognising that flexible work arrangements are vital to the successful recruitment and retention of their employees,” the Australian Human Rights Commission said.

“Flexible work arrangements can include changing hours of work such as working fewer hours or changing start or finish times, changing patterns of work by working split shifts or job-sharing, and even changing the place of work, such as working from home.”

Are there existing laws to protect mothers in the workplace?

It is important for HR workers to know what is at stake should their organisation be judged to have discriminated against a mother due to her having dependants.   

The current Fair Work Act 2009 states, parents, or those with the responsibility for the care of a child who is school aged or younger, have the right to ask for flexible work which must be seriously considered by the employer, and can only be refused on reasonable business grounds.”

In other words, there will be penalties for organisations who fail to comply with the Act.

What do the experts say in regards to non-disclosure from mothers seeking employment?

While it may be tempting for job seeking mothers to withhold the fact they are mothers, one HR expert strongly warned against doing so.  

Christine Marriott, a Human Resources Talent Acquisition Manager of Allity, told MyRecruitment+ that if found out, withholding their real situation would inevitably damage the relationship with the employer.

She said open and honest communication was key to a favourable outcome for everyone.

“Some of our employees ask for flexible working hours including working from home and it is not an issue.

“It is best for the candidate to let their employer know their situation from the start so the right plan can be put in place. It is about having the discussion early.”


Please use the comments section below and let know what you think


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