Having a baby is one of the worst things a woman can do for her career.
Women who take time off work to have children are being screwed over by their bosses, according to an alarming new survey.
Despite many companies paying lip service to the idea of a "flexible" workplace, a new survey of 1000 Australian women, interviewed anonymously, tells a different story.
Many women gave horrifying examples of being made redundant while pregnant or shortly after giving birth.
"I was asked to attend a meeting to discuss my 'return to work options' and when I arrived, I was told my role was redundant," one woman said.
"In actual fact, my maternity cover had been hired into a newly created role, which sounded very like my role with a different title, and I was simply discarded with no options offered to me at all."
Another woman was told to her face that having a baby was going to damage her career.
"My manager basically told me that I'll be less reliable because I have a young child to care for now, and that I should bow out gracefully so someone else could keep their job. I had been planning to return to work full-time," she said.
The report commissioned by jobs website Flex Careers found that only 50 per cent of new parents feel adequately supported by their employer. Sixty-five per cent said their experience of pregnancy, parental leave and return to work has significantly affected their mental health and 71 per cent said the ordeal had significantly reduced their confidence and self-belief.
More than 12 per cent of respondents were contacted while on parental leave to be told their role was redundant, and a further 3 per cent were made redundant shortly after announcing their pregnancy.
The most heartbreaking stat from the survey revealed that 65 per cent said how they were treated put them off returning to or remaining in the workforce.
"The strong theme during our interviews is that pregnant women, and those on parental leave or with very young children, feel that they were selected for redundancy not based on their role, but based on personal factors," the report says.
"Women feel they are a perceived 'risk' or are considered less committed to their work than other members of staff due to childcare responsibilities."