Discrimination against women with children in the Czech Republic 

In the opinion of Czech citizens, women with children are subjected to more discrimination on the labor market than any other group in the country, according to research carried out by the agency Median, s.r.o. in late February and early March of 2005. In particular, illegal behavior on the part of employers (new legislation intended to eliminate discriminatory practices in the treatment of job applicants has been in force since October 2004) takes the form of impermissible questions posed during job interviews: on the average, every second women reports having been subjected to such treatment.

Discriminatory Practices of Employers

'Act no. 435/2004 Coll.', the new, generally binding employment-related regulation, amends and modifies more than fifty related acts, including the Labour Code. One part of the act sets out terms for the prevention of discriminatory practices. This part of the legislation focuses on discrimination against applicants for employment on the basis of race, age, gender, or religious affiliation. Nonetheless, since most of the victims of discrimination fail to take action against it, most cases of discrimination practiced by employers remain concealed. While cases of racial or age-based discrimination do sporadically come to light, this is generally limited to cases that have been brought to court. In practice, however, incidences involving discrimination against young women - mothers with children - occur frequently. The focus of the new law is on this particular area. It even introduces a written list of questions that persons conducting employment interviews are not allowed to pose ( e.g. 'Are you married? Do you have children? How old are they? Who will take care of them for you? What will you do when your children fall ill? Are you planning to get married? Are you planning to become a mother? Where does your husband work? What is your health like? You aren’t pregnant, are you?'). There is legal recourse available against an employer who has posed impermissible questions during an employment interview and the law is clearly on the side of the female employment applicant should the discriminatory behavior become part of a legal dispute. Nevertheless, this type of illegal behavior continues to occur frequently; a survey conducted for the Mladá fronta Dnes newspaper in late February and early March of 2005 by the agency Median s.r.o. revealed that women are confronted with impermissible questions during one out of every two job interviews.

Survey for Mladá fronta Dnes

The agency asked a group of female respondents the following questions. 'While searching for employment, have you encountered questions from a future employer about the number of children you have, family planning, child-care in the event of the children’s illness or holidays, etc.?' A positive response was returned by 49% of respondents; 51% of them answered in the negative. In the 30-39 age group the proportion of female job applicants who had been posed questions prohibited by law came to 73.9%. In the 20-29 age group it was 61.3% and in the 40-49 age group a 59.6% share had had that experience. The most frequent reports of impermissible questions came from women with university educations (67.9%) and women living in Prague (71.9%). The survey data also revealed a correlation between the incidence of discriminatory behavior and place of residence (address of the employer) - the bigger the municipality, the more frequent were violations of the law. A similar correlation could be identified in the context of higher wages of applicants - the higher the applicant’s income, the more frequently were discriminatory questions posed. For example, applicants with a net income of over CZK 14,000 reported that they had encountered illegal behavior in almost three-quarters (71.4%) of the employment interviews that they had attended as applicants.

28% of the women surveyed were convinced that they had personally experienced gender-based discrimination; this conviction was the strongest among women the 30-39 age group (56.5% respondents) and above average in the 23-30 age group as well (45.2%). This conviction was revealed in the responses to the question of whether the respondent believed that she had at some point been unsuccessful as a job applicant because of her gender.

The survey findings also made it clear that women are not alone in giving credit to the assertion that there is discrimination against women on the labour market in the Czech Republic. When asked to identify the persons subjected to the most discrimination on the labor market, or the group for which finding employment was the most difficult, 33.1% - by far the largest share of both women and men surveyed - responded that this group was women with children. Responses identifying people approaching retirement age (19.3%), school graduates, the elderly, people with little education, members of the Roma community, etc, came in less frequently.

This information is made available through the European Industrial Relations Observatory (EIRO), as a service to users of the EIROnline database. EIRO is a project of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. However, this information has been neither edited nor approved by the Foundation, which means that it is not responsible for its content and accuracy. This is the responsibility of the EIRO national centre that originated/provided the information. For details see the "About this record" information in this record.

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