UnionsWA today commented issues of pregnancy and parenting related work discrimination as part of hearings held today in Perth by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Meredith Hammat, Secretary UnionsWA said:
"No employer is ever going to admit that they discriminate against a woman because she’s pregnant or because a working parent puts the needs of their child before their job, it’s an unspoken injustice.
"In 2011 the ABS estimated that 67,000 women who had recently given birth had faced discrimination at work.
"The simple truth is that many employers lack the skills to manage a flexible workforce and many employees lack the power in the workplace to defend themselves from such discrimination.
"We need a level playing field for workers who may face loss of income and mental stress at an important time of their lives.
“The growth of insecure work is a real issue for pregnant women and parents.
“Too often people forced into accepting short term contracts and casual work and employers are won’t make reasonable adjustments to accommodate pregnancy or parenting responsibilities.
“Paid parental leave, a genuine right to request flexible work arrangements to accommodate caring responsibilities and effective and enforced anti-discrimination laws need to be part of the solution.
“Most people work to live, not the other way around.
“There is no more important aspect to life than life itself.
“We know from countless studies that the very early years of a baby’s life are crucial to development.
“The transition between care work and paid employment is increasingly shaped by the availability of child care
“Poor access, low quality or high cost child care means that working families have to juggle competing demands.
“Working parents are caught in the middle and employers are too often inflexible.
“In among these demands, the care and welfare of children needs to be paramount, but that is not the case at present.”
For further information about the Australian Human Rights Commission Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review see: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/pregnancy-discrimination
4913.0 - Pregnancy and Employment Transitions, Australia, Nov 2011