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Can’t we do better?

Published: February 15, 2016

New reports suggest that Australian employers could be doing much more to support flexible working practices, and make things easier for new parents – women in particular.

Australian Financial Review has reported a recent survey showing more than half of Australian mothers have been discriminated against because of their child caring responsibilities. Earlier studies in the Human Rights Commission’s National Prevalence Survey had similar findings, reporting that 49 per cent of mothers experienced workplace discrimination during pregnancy/ parental leave/ return to work. The figure among women was almost twice as high as the numbers of fathers/ partners experiencing discrimination, suggesting women are particularly discriminated against.

According to FlexCareers CEO Nikki Hobin, flexibility is the top barrier to mothers working to their full potential, as just one in ten working mothers benefit from a flexible work arrangement. Further studies from the Association of Accounting Technicians found that half of working mothers struggle to balance employment and family commitments. Two thirds of young women worry about the impact having children would have on their career, and half of childless women feel their current career doesn’t offer them the flexibility they would need to care for a family.

As Australian businesses travel the bumpy road towards implementing more flexible policies and procedures to end discrimination and improve productivity, retention, and other critical workforce management issues, many are left searching for solutions to bolster the uptake of flexible work.

In a recent interview with HCA Magazine, Dr Alannah Rafferty, Associate Professor at UNSW Business School’s School of Management urged HR departments to ensure policies pervade company culture, with management and key leaders playing an integral role. Technology also plays a role. Mitrefinch’s employee time and attendance software can help businesses organise the schedules and times of their home/ flexible workers. The Mitrefinch mobile workforce applications, improve workplace productivity by making it easier for supervisors and employees to complete a wide range of work related and administrative tasks from any location, at any time.

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