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What to expect when you’re expecting … Discrimination?

The Australian Human Rights Commission has been asked by the Australian Government to undertake research into the prevalence and nature of discrimination against employees who are pregnant and people returning to work after parental leave. Diversity Council Australia congratulates the Government on addressing this important issue and looks forward to contributing to the research on behalf of its members.

Nareen Young, DCA’s CEO, said anecdotal evidence suggests such discrimination is still a real problem.

“Despite federal law prohibiting pregnancy discrimination having been in force for nearly 30 years, we still hear horror stories of women being sacked or made redundant whilst pregnant, on parental leave or soon after their return to work. It’s also common to hear that when parents do return to work, they find their role has been downgraded or they are no longer given quality work or development opportunities, especially if they request a return to more flexible working arrangements.

“DCA’s Working for the Future national survey of Australian workers found that care-givers were consistently rated higher on management capability than their non-care-giving colleagues. Discriminating against these workers is clearly nonsensical and represents a waste of talent, not to mention having major consequences for these women and their families,” said Ms Young.

The Commission’s Pregnant and Productive research was more than ten years ago so it’s timely to re-examine the issue through this new research, added Ms Young.
“A full investigation examining the current extent of the problem – and one which has bipartisan support – is very much needed. It is critical to establish an evidence base which identifies the prevalence of this type of discrimination and allows proper analysis of the adequacy of the current legal and policy responses, best practice to be identified and future progress to be monitored.

“Leading employers have long recognised the benefits of pro-actively preventing this type of workplace discrimination and all employers can learn from their approaches. We will ensure that DCA members have the opportunity to have their say on this important area through the consultation process,” said Ms Young.

The Commission will report on the research in May 2014 and DCA will be in touch with members soon about how you can be involved.

mums@work | 23.07.13
Image: Free Digital Photos/Ambro