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  • The 2017 Pregnancy and Employment Transitions survey revealed that women are more likely to stay in their jobs after having a child and that they return to the same job they had before the child was born. These findings were consistent with findings from the Department of Social Services’ 2014 PPL evaluation. These results are consistent with the PPL evaluation that was conducted by academic experts at the Department of Social Services in 2014.The 2017 Pregnancy and Employment Transitions Survey revealed some key findings:

    Mothers’ participation in the labour force:

      • Fewer women quit their job after giving birth than in 2017.
      • A higher percentage of women who have returned to work or started working again than in 2017, with 59% returning to the same job and the same responsibilities.

    Working mothers spend more time at home with their newborn

      • A higher percentage of women who returned to work after giving birth reported that their child was at least 7 months old when they returned (35 percent in 2011 versus 43%) in 2017.


    An estimated 582,300 Australian women over 15 years were the mothers of a child younger than two years in November 2017.

    These women:

      • 42% had either started or returned to work following the birth of their child.
      • 18% were in leave for the birth of their child in November 2017, which was higher than the 9% who were in leave in November 2011.
      • 51% of the population were now in the labor force, compared to 43% in November 2011.


    According to the survey, 73% (427.500) of pregnant women had a job during their pregnancy. From 29% in 2011, 23% of pregnant women left their job permanently.

    48% of pregnant women worked at least 35 hours a week before giving birth to their child. 23% were working 40 hours a week.


    The percentage of pregnant women who were employed while they were still in labor and took unpaid leave (paid or unpaid) remained relatively constant in 2017 (93% versus 92%). The percentage of these women who claimed to have taken unpaid leave fell from 71% in 2011 down to 65% in 2017.


    A total of 246,700 (42%) women had either started work or returned to work after the birth their youngest child. These were the ones who returned to work:

      • 74% were returned after spending at minimum 4 months at home with their child (up 65% from 2011);
      • After 10 months or more, one in four (25%) people return to work (up from 21% back in 2011).

    The majority (82%) of women who returned to work for the same employer/business were women. 79% of these women returned to the same tasks, roles, and responsibilities. From 18% in 2011, to 13% in 2017, the proportion of women who return to work for a different employer/business has declined.

    56 percent of women who started or returned to work after having a child relied on informal childcare (grandparents and other relatives) for their primary care. The most common form of informal childcare was provided by grandparents, where 26% of mothers rely on them to look after their child.

    The reliance on formal care has increased from 33% in 2011 up to 44% in 2017. 88% of those women who rely on formal daycare facilities for their care were using long-day care centres.


    Use of the data contained in this publication should be done with caution. These estimates were derived from a small sample. This means that many estimates have high Relative Standard Errors.

    Refer to the Relative Standard Error tab in each Table for more information about how to use the data.

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