Falling pregnant has been labelled “career poison” in a new survey by online employment service CareerOne.com.au.
The research found three quarters of the female respondents believed it difficult to have both a family and career, while 73 percent of men didn’t believe parenthood would have any impact on their career progression.
CareerOne held a forum today to discuss the survey results and other issues surrounding career barriers for women.
Journalist and news anchor Tracey Spicer told the audience that employers had to change their attitude to women taking maternity leave.
“At the moment too many employers take the view that the woman is not going to return and work from there,” she said.
Spicer took legal action against TEN after she was sacked two months after returning from maternity leave. A settlement was reached between the two parties.
To avoid litigation and to foster a productive return to work, Spicer recommends both employers and employees read up on maternity leave rights, appropriate pay and penalty rates, and leave entitlements and look at flexible work arrangements together.
Spicer recalls a colleague in Melbourne who had gone to great lengths to design a job share arrangement. She had done her homework and could prove the new arrangement would increase productivity.
“The station boss turned it down flat only because it had not been done before,” she said.
Panel moderator and CareerOne editor Kate Southam said there was real opportunity for small business to compete with the big employers for the best talent if they are prepared to offer job flexibility.
“This is not about creating a greater burden for small business but if they can review their job roles and focus on outcomes rather than hours spent in the office they can win on profit, productivity and staff retention,” she said.
“Not only is Australia experiencing something of a baby boom but we also have the ‘sandwich generation’ – people taking care of their children and their parents and this will only increase,” she said.
“Small business operators have had a lot of their plate navigating through the GFC but it would benefit them enormously to educate themselves on issues such as job share and how to judge worker performance by outcomes – not hours,” she added.
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