Flexibility high on the agenda for working mums

Katie Barillaro
By: Katie Barillaro
Categories: Discrimination Flexibility Return to Work Working Mum

In December 2018, JustMums Recruitment surveyed over 550 women in Australia & New Zealand about their employment preferences and experiences which gave us great insights into life as a working mum.


It was no surprise to us that the majority of mums were looking for roles with employers who offer flexible working arrangements – and many of those that were returning to work after parental leave or currently working were looking to change employers because their flexible work requests had been denied. Some of the quotes from respondents about flexibility included:

 “I preferred to move on to a more flexible and supportive organisation.”

“My request for flexibility was granted, however I ended up doing a full-time role in part-time hours!”

Of those looking to secure a new role in 2019, a large percentage were seeking part-time hours, closely followed by those who were looking to work from home, within school hours or in a job share arrangement. Only 15% were looking for a full-time or full-time flexible role.


We were shocked to learn that almost half of the respondents had encountered discrimination as a result of being a mum in the workplace. This discrimination began for some whilst they were pregnant and continued until their return to work after parental leave. Some of the quotes from respondents about discrimination included:

“After I had faced discrimination in my job after returning from parental leave, I got a better job offer that was more suited to my needs.”

 “I was made redundant once advising my employer I was pregnant.”

“I had once addressed unfair treatment from my first pregnancy and my manager became very defensive. The second time I chose to be quiet and leave.”

Mums are missing out on career advancement

Mums also told us that they were often overlooked for promotions and/or missed out on a deserved pay rise or bonus whilst on parental leave.

 “I didn’t receive a pay review whilst on parental leave and when I returned, I was offered less than I deserved based upon my previous performance.”

“I was asked to take a more junior role on my return from parental leave, I did not accept the request. However, shortly after there was a restructure and I was essentially demoted anyway.”

Discrimination rife when mums return to work

Unfortunately, the situation for some mums became worse when they returned to work.

“They assumed I was incapable because I am a mum and work part-time.”

“When I returned from maternity leave I was given less responsibility and parts of my job were shared to other people.”

 “I was expected to do a full-time workload in 3 days and do the extra work from home on my non-working days.”

Mums generally don’t report discrimination

Considering the emotional and financial stress that a lot of these mums were under, it is not really surprising that almost half of those that had experienced workplace discrimination did not address it with their employer or take further action.

“I didn’t want to jeopardise my job.”

“I didn’t have the courage.”

“It was my first pregnancy and I didn’t realise that I had any rights.”

In comparison to our 2017 survey, more mums are seeking flexibility and whilst we work with some incredible employers at JustMums Recruitment who value and reward their staff, it is clear that many employers have a long way to go in supporting working mums. Employers who do offer flexible work arrangements and a family-friendly workplace will continue to attract and retain the top talent in the market.


Katie Barillaro
About Katie Barillaro
Katie joined JustMums in July 2018 as our Marketing Consultant and brings more than 20 years traditional and digital marketing experience to the team. Katie has previously worked for large recruitment brands and is a busy working mother balancing career and family.

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