PARENTAL STATUS AND WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION

A recent survey of more than 4,000 workers with dependent children has revealed that up to half of working parents experience harmful discrimination at work, significantly impacting their mental health.

Researchers from La Trobe University assert that their survey ‘provides a snapshot of the extent to which mothers and fathers perceive themselves as disadvantaged at work due to their parental status,’ adversely affecting their well-being.

‘This form of workplace discrimination has been under-investigated to date,’ they state, underscoring the urgency for public and workplace policies to prioritise inclusivity for individuals with parenting and caregiving responsibilities.

The survey found that mothers frequently report missing out on job opportunities such as promotions or training, with a third facing negative comments from colleagues and supervisors. Additionally, one in five fathers reported experiencing discriminatory behaviours.

Those who felt discriminated against were more likely to experience psychological distress, stress, and anxiety at work, leading some to contemplate leaving their jobs.

The study underscores the necessity for workplace policies to address discrimination against parents, advocating for the inclusion of "parental status" in workplace policies and the provision of resources for staff and managers.

Existing stereotypes perpetuate biases against parents who prioritise family responsibilities over paid work.

According to the researchers, their findings ‘support the contention that parents, as a distinct cohort less able to conform to the ideal worker archetype, are vulnerable to negative perceptions and behaviours, particularly mothers.’

This research contributes to existing studies on mothers and early parenting issues in Australia, highlighting the need for broader recognition of the challenges faced by working parents.

Access the research here

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