Article 17 October 2021

Remote work considered “a favor” by employers for pregnant women and parents of young children

In an essay published in “Le Monde” on October 17, 2021, two TSM Research scholars argue for better support for maternity in companies.

The differences in career development and salaries between men and women are rooted in societal values and corporate culture, according to Marion Fortin and Camille Desjardins. The two TSM researchers in human resources management and organisational behaviour wanted to explore this issue by interviewing 35 women during their pregnancy, maternity leave and when they returned to work. 

Negative perception
What they discovered was that managers are reluctant to grant pregnant women or parents of young children the working arrangements provided for by law, and that companies generally have a negative perception of those employees.

Interviews during the pandemic showed that employers were particularly suspicious of women who requested to work from home. 

Remote work has indeed proved to be a particularly suitable approach for women who are pregnant or have small children. They save on commuting and have more flexibility to juggle different professional and personal constraints. 

More productive when working from home
Except that managers were reluctant to grant this right to women, perceiving it as a favour. In return, more work was demanded, and a return to the office was urged despite the pandemic crisis, in exchange for career development or a bonus. As a result, women resigned or lowered their career ambitions on their return to the labour market.

This is a paradoxical situation, as the women interviewed said they were more productive and worked longer hours while remote working. Some European countries are relaxing their legislation to allow employees to work from home, but this is not the case in France.


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