Terms of Reference

Research project by the Australian Human Rights Commission: Prevalence of experiences of discrimination relating to pregnancy at work and return to work after parental leave

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner, on behalf of the Commission, will conduct research to identify the prevalence of discrimination in relation to pregnancy at work and return to work after parental leave as follows:

  1. A national online prevalence survey to assess the prevalence, nature and consequences of discrimination relating to pregnancy at work and return to work after parental leave. Selected phone interviews may be conducted with target groups unable to access the online survey.
  2. The Commission would provide an interim report on the survey headline data.
  3. The Commission would then convene a series of roundtables and consultations nationally and in regional areas, including with government, industry and employer groups, unions, workers, women’s groups, relevant community and health organisations, and affected women not otherwise represented, to consider the prevalence data and its implications.
  4. Based on the above, the Commission will prepare a research report, including recommendations, which identifies the prevalence of discrimination, adequacy of existing laws, policies procedures and practices, best practice approaches for addressing this, and proposed areas of focus for future activities to address any major matters of concern arising.


The Commission will seek to obtain data on the full range of family circumstances, including single parent or separating households, to determine the extent to which the impact of any discrimination may be exacerbated by family circumstances.

In conducting the research, the Commission will consider recent developments in the area (including the introduction and any initial evaluation of the paid parental leave scheme) as well as previous reports (such as the Commission’s National Inquiry into Pregnancy and Work, Pregnant and productive: It’s a right not a privilege to work while pregnant (1998)).

22 June 2013