ABOUT THIS PUBLICATION
Pregnancy and Employment Transitions focuses on birth mothers with a natural child living with them who was under two years of age when the mother was interviewed in November 2005. The information collected covers: women's changing hours of work in their job during pregnancy; women's use of paid and unpaid leave associated with pregnancy, the birth of their child and the subsequent caring for the new born child; the length of leave breaks that mothers took in association with their pregnancy and the birth of their child; and the reasons for entering or not entering the workforce following the birth. Details of the work arrangements of the mother's partner, both before and after the birth, were also collected.
ABOUT THIS SURVEY
The Pregnancy and Employment Transitions Survey (PaETS) was conducted in November 2005 as a supplement to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Monthly Population Survey (MPS). The PaETS was conducted in both urban and rural areas in all states and territories, but excluded women living in very remote parts of Australia who would otherwise have been within the scope of the survey. The exclusion of these women will only have a minor impact on any aggregate estimates that are produced for individual states and territories, except the Northern Territory where such women account for over 20% of the total female population.
The PaETS was designed primarily to provide estimates at the Australia level. Some broad estimates by state and territory are provided in table 1 of this publication for: the numbers of women who worked while pregnant; women who took maternity leave; and whether they returned to employment with the same employer that they left due to their pregnancy. Table 1 also includes information by state and territory about the length of time (associated with the birth of their child) that women were out of the workforce, the age of the child when they commenced employment after the birth and the leave arrangements of their partner for the pregnancy/birth. Some of the estimates in table 1 (and in other tables) have high sampling errors - users should take note of the Relative Standard Errors (RSEs) presented with each table in assessing the reliability of the estimates for their purposes. Because of high sampling errors, the more detailed tables in this publication are not presented by state and territory.
Other issues for analysis and interpretation
In analysing and interpreting the PaETS data, users should be aware of the potential for inaccuracy in respondents recalling the circumstances surrounding their employment over the course of a pregnancy that was completed up to two years prior to interview. As the focus of the survey was mothers with children less than two years old (designed to put an upper limit on the recall period as well as to keep the information current), some of the information, such as the age of the child when the mother began working after the birth, does not take account of the return to work circumstances of mothers whose youngest child was born relatively close to the time of interview.
As estimates have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between sums of the component items and totals.
For further information about these and related statistics, contact the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Family and Community Statistics Section on Canberra (02) 6252 5742.
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS
This publication provides summary information, compiled from the Pregnancy and Employment Transitions Survey, on birth mothers with at least one child less than two years of age living with them at the time of interview. The information collected included the mother's age, marital and employment status; and the leave arrangements associated with the birth in the case of mothers who were employed in the period leading up to the birth of their most recent child under two years of age; and where appropriate, reasons for commencing or resuming employment after that most recent birth.
The following diagrams illustrate, within the estimated total of 467,000 birth mothers with children under two years of age living in private dwellings, some of the subgroups of interest in understanding pregnancy/birth related employment transitions, in particular including:
Of the estimated 467,000 women in Australia aged 15 years and over who were the birth mothers of at least one child under two years of age living with them at the time the mother was interviewed, nearly two-thirds (64%) were aged 30 years or over and the majority (88%) had a partner. The proportion of such mothers with a partner was similar for all age groups except those aged 15 to 24 years where 60% were partnered.
- women who were employed in a job while pregnant
- women who took leave or time away from their job for the birth of their child
- women who were employed in a job after the birth of their child
- women who were currently employed (including those on leave from their job at the time of interview)
- women with the same partner now as when they were pregnant.
Of the 299,000 women who had a job at some time while pregnant, nearly all (98%) worked in that job at some time during their pregnancy (the remaining 2% had a job that they were away from for the entire period of the pregnancy, such as already on leave for another purpose). Nearly three-quarters (217,000 or 74%) of the 294,000 women who worked in a job at some time while pregnant also took leave or time away from their job for the birth of their child. Paid leave of some sort was taken by 138,000 mothers (63% of those who took leave), including 101,000 women who accessed paid maternity leave.
WOMEN WHO HAD A JOB WHILE PREGNANT, Use of leave
There were 77,000 women who did not report taking any time away from their job while pregnant. Nearly three quarters of these women (56,000 or 73%) reported that they had not taken leave or time away, but had permanently left their job during the pregnancy, even though 45% of these women were leaving jobs that had paid sick and holiday leave entitlements. At the time of interview, 39,000 of these women (or 69%) had not worked since the birth of their child. Of the remaining 17,000 women that had permanently left their job during pregnancy but had worked since the birth of their child, less than half of these women (8,000) were in jobs during their pregnancy that had paid holiday or sick leave entitlements.
Most of the other 21,000 women not taking leave or time away from their jobs were either operating their own business or were contributing family workers (11,000 in total), while some (6,000) were employees whose work arrangements did not entitle them to sick or holiday leave and they did not take formal periods of absence for the birth.
For those 161,000 women who worked in a job while pregnant, and returned to employment after the birth of their youngest child under two years of age, the total time out of the workforce (both before and after the birth) averaged 27 weeks. Of these women, 126,000 had taken leave or time away from work for the birth, with an average absence of 28 weeks. The remaining 35,000 women did not take leave or time away, most commonly because they were operating their own business or had permanently left their last main job while pregnant. On average, these women were out of the workforce for 24 weeks.
By the time that they were interviewed, nearly half of the women with their youngest child under two years of age had worked in a job since the birth (181,000 or 39%), and most of these mothers (126,000) had returned to work with the employer that they had prior to the birth. Of those mothers working in a job since the most recent birth, 75,000 (41%) had commenced work before the child was four months old (rounded to nearest month). Of all women with a child under four months old at the time of interview, 8% were currently working, while for women whose youngest child was aged thirteen months or more (rounded to nearest month) at the time of interview, 48% were working when interviewed.
WOMEN WITH CHILDREN LESS THAN TWO YEARS, Current employment status and age of child
Women who worked in a job while pregnant
Occupation of last main job while pregnant
For the 294,000 women who worked in a job while pregnant, the two most common broad occupation classifications to which their main job when working while pregnant were classified were: Professionals (31%); or Intermediate clerical, sales and service workers (24%).
Number of children in family
Women who had worked while pregnant, and whose only child living with them at the time of the survey was a natural child under two years of age, were more likely (64%) to have had leave entitlements associated with their last main job while pregnant than were women with additional children under 15 years of age (48%). Women with one child were also much more likely to work 35 or more hours a week in their last main job before giving birth than were women with more than one child (68% and 27% respectively).
WOMEN WHO WORKED IN A JOB WHILE PREGNANT, Usual weekly hours worked
Changes to hours usually worked during pregnancy
Of women who worked in a job while pregnant 22% reported changing the usual hours that they worked in their last main job during pregnancy. A small proportion of women reported that in their last main job the usual hours that they worked had fluctuated or increased as a result of the pregnancy, while 14% of women who worked in a job while pregnant indicated that pregnancy was the reason for a reduction in their time at work in their last main job. However, some women may have changed their main job during pregnancy (even if remaining with the same employer or business) to reduce their hours of work, so that their reported last main job in pregnancy already reflected lower hours of work than the job they held at the start of their pregnancy. Multiple job holders may have reduced the hours that they worked in jobs other than their main job, or may have reduced the number of jobs in which they worked.
Difficulties experienced in the workplace during pregnancy
Women who worked in a job while pregnant, and who did not own the business in which they worked, were asked whether they had experienced any difficulties in the workplace while they were pregnant. At least one difficulty was reported by 22% of women who were asked, with the most common forms being: 9% receiving inappropriate or negative comments (43% of those who experienced difficulties); 9% missing out on training or development opportunities; and 7% missing out on opportunities for promotion (32% of those experiencing difficulties). Women were not asked about the reasons for the difficulties, nor whether the difficulties were associated with the pregnancy.
Leave taken by women for the birth
Length of time with employer
While most women who worked in a job during their pregnancy took some leave or time away from work for the pregnancy or birth of their child, the proportion varied with the length of time that they worked for the same employer. Recent starters (those who had worked for an employer for less than a year) were far less likely (53%) to have taken some leave or time away than those who were long term workers (87% for those who had worked for the same employer for five years or more). Recent starters were also far less likely (16%) to have used paid leave for the birth than were long term workers (67%).
WOMEN TAKING LEAVE, Type of leave taken by length of time with employer
Women who did not take leave for the birth
About one quarter of women who worked in a job while pregnant (77,000 or 26%) did not take leave of any kind for the birth. For 56,000 women this was because they had permanently left their job before the birth. The remaining 21,000 were mainly incorporated or unincorporated business owners or women who indicated that they did not have access to leave entitlements.
Employment details of women taking leave
Professionals were more likely to take paid leave for the birth of their child than women in other occupations. While 56% of Professionals took paid maternity leave, only 8% of Elementary clerical, sales and service workers took paid maternity leave.
Use of leave for the birth of the child was more prevalent within the public sector (86%) than in the private sector (71%). While 76% of women in the public sector took paid maternity leave, only 25% of women employed in the private sector took such leave.
Women in large firms (employing 100 people or more) were more likely (56%) to take paid maternity leave for the birth than women in firms employing less than 10 people (15%).
Reasons for not taking paid maternity leave
Of the 170,000 women who had worked in a job while pregnant (other than in their own unincorporated business), and who had not taken paid maternity leave related to their latest birth, half stated that such leave was either not available or not offered by their employer. Over a quarter (28%) of women reported they were not eligible for paid maternity leave, although the reported ineligibility rate was lower (20%) for women who had worked for the same employer for a year or more.
Entering and returning to the workforce after the birth
Of the 467,000 women with their youngest child under two years of age, 181,000 women had either entered or returned to the workforce after the birth. Most of these women (82%) indicated that when they commenced work in a job after the birth it was on a part-time basis, with nearly half (45%) working 15 hours or less on their return. In addition, some women still on leave from their main job may have returned to work in a second job or commenced work in a second job since the birth of their child.
'Financial reasons' was the most common response (73%) given by women for either starting or returning to work in a job within two years of the birth of their child, followed by 'adult interaction and mental stimulation' (30%). 'Financial reasons' was the most common response across all household income quintiles.
There were 92,000 women who permanently left the last main job they had while pregnant. Nearly all of these women had worked in that job at some time during the pregnancy. The majority of these women (56,000) left their main job without taking leave or any other time away from the job for the pregnancy/birth of their child, while 35,000 women left after taking leave or time away. Of all the women permanently leaving their last main job, at the time of interview there were 36,000 women who had worked since the birth, and 58% of these women had recommenced working by the time their child was six months old. Among these women, the most common reason (43%) to have permanently left their last main job while pregnant was to care for their child. For those 56,000 women who, at the time of the interview, had not worked in a job since the birth of their latest child, caring for their child was the most common reason (58%) for having left their last main job, with about one third of these being full-time jobs which generally (82%) had sick or holiday leave entitlements.
Women who were employed at the time of the interview
While 195,000 women, or 42% of all women with a child under two years of age at interview, were employed at the time of interview, the employed proportion was much lower (18%) for the 12% of women in one parent families. Where the partner at the time of interview was also the partner during pregnancy, 6% of such couple families had neither parent currently employed.
There were 31,000 women with a child under two years of age at interview who were employed at the time of interview but were still on leave for the birth, and 6,000 women on other leave at the time of interview. Of the remaining 158,000 employed women who were working, 83% reported using working arrangements to assist with the care of their child. The most common arrangements used by the working mothers were flexible working hours (44%), permanent part-time work (39%) and working from home (27%). Only 17% of the employed mothers who were asked about their working arrangements reported using no work arrangements to assist with the care of their child.
WOMEN CURRENTLY WORKING WHO USE WORK ARRANGEMENTS, Work arrangements used to care for child(a)
Partners during the pregnancy
There were 405,000 women whose partner at interview was the same as their partner while they were pregnant with their youngest child under two years of age (87% of all women with a child under two years of age). Of their partners, 5% did not work in a job during the pregnancy. For the 384,000 partners who did work in a job, 77% took some form of leave for the birth, although for most of them (74%) the leave period was short (two weeks or less). Some form of paid leave was used during pregnancy by 206,000 partners (70% of those taking leave), with 69,000 partners using paid paternity/parenting leave.
Of the 378,000 partners while pregnant that were employed after the birth of the child, 34% (128,000 partners) used work arrangements in their first main job after the birth to assist with child care. The most common work arrangement was flexible working hours, used by 20% of the employed partners.
PARTNER EMPLOYED AFTER BIRTH WHO USED WORK ARRANGEMENTS, Work arrangements used to care for child(a)
This page last updated 15 November 2012