Employment and Workforce Participation 2017 Survey Results

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  Published on Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Employment and Workforce Participation 2017 Survey Results

Library Home  >  Leadership & Service Management
  Published on Tuesday, 23 May 2017

An important element of our annual Child Care and Workforce Participation Survey is to consider the decisions parents and guardians make about returning to work after they have children and how they balance (or don't) the competing pressures of work and family life.

This is important, as it gives us a snapshot of how open workplaces are to flexible work and whether these so called 'family friendly' arrangements are actually helping working families.

Just under 2000 Australian parents and carers answered our questions on workforce participation and we have summarised some of the findings below.

Parental leave

Just under 87 per cent of people who responded to our survey this year took parental leave and 9-12 months was the most common amount of time taken. Of this number nearly 77 per cent received government or employer sponsored parental leave pay for all or some of the time they were off work.

Return to work

More than 73 per cent of participants said they didn't have a choice about returning to work, identifying financial imperatives and career opportunities as the main reasons. Despite this high number, just over 50 per cent of parents and carers said that returning to work was financially viable in terms of income versus child care costs.

According to our survey the three biggest challenges for parents returning to work after having a child are: guilt about leaving a child in care, organising time and daily logistics and finding child care.

Despite this, only 9 per cent of employers are helping working parents source and secure high quality child care when and where they need it. Providing opportunities for flexible work seems to be where employers are more willing to step in and help, 80 per cent of respondents said their employer was either flexible or very flexible in terms of supporting working parents.

To illustrate this, 66 per cent of parents who responded to our survey had requested flexible work opportunities and of this number 50 per cent were granted.

Interestingly, close to 48 per cent of respondents said they were less worried about work and career progression when they returned to work after having children. 33 per cent of parents said they felt exactly the same while 12 per cent said they felt more focused on progressing in their career.

Work/life balance?

Ever feel like you are always rushed and struggling to stay on top of things? Join the club; according to our survey 84 per cent of working parents struggle to achieve a balance between work and all or some of the time.

This is potentially compounded by the fact that the domestic arrangements concerning child care drop offs, home care, doctor's appointments, sick days and so on are shared equally in only a third of families with the mother taking a majority of the load in more than 52 per cent of families.


In a somewhat unpleasant indictment of societal attitude towards working parents, 78 per cent of survey respondents told us they felt discriminated against for being a working parent, either by other parents, their employer or colleagues or their friends and family.

Next time we offer your comments and opinions on how the government could improve the Australian child care system.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 14 October 2020


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