Let’s stop punishing mothers - EEO Commissioner

Let’s stop punishing mothers - EEO Commissioner

May 29, 2018

Women who take time out to have children deserve better from the businesses which employ them, the Human Rights Commission says.

“We need to do better by mothers. We say we value the work of raising children - let’s back up the lip service with action to ensure we don’t penalise them financially,” Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue said today.

Dr Blue’s comments follow publication of Parenthood and Labour Market Outcomes by Motu Economic and Public Policy Research.  

The research quantifies the wage difference between men and women who do not have children as 5.7 percent, rising to 12.5 percent between men and women who are parents. Hourly rates for women who become parents decrease by 4.4 percent relative to the wages they could have expected had they not had children.

“The data demonstrates conclusively that being a mum often comes at a significant price, with the gender pay gap exploding when women take a career break,” she said.

Dr Blue says removing the penalties for being a mother in the workforce requires strong and decisive action by both businesses and society.

“Why not have pay equity checks for women in the workforce, and when they return after breaks for parenting, to ensure they are not missing out on pay increases? We could also take our lead from Nordic countries which actively encourage men to take paid parental leave and share parenting responsibilities.

“We need affordable ECE and afterschool care. And we need unconscious bias training so that we all, especially employers, recognize and challenge the stereotypes which perpetuate the gender pay gap,” Dr Blue said.

The Commission would also like to see employers with more than 100 employees publish their gender and bonus pay gaps so the causes of the gender pay gap can be forensically examined.