Pregnancy discrimination in Australia widespread, showed the Australian Human Rights Commission report

Friday 25 July 2014

Article by Rebeccah Elley

Research released today by the Australian Human Rights Commission highlighted pregnancy discrimination is widespread with one in two mothers experiencing discrimination in the workplace at some point during their pregnancy, parental leave or when returning to work.

Pregnancy discrimination widespread showed the Australian Human Rights Commission report

Victoria Legal Aid program manager Melanie Schleiger said the findings are “disheartening”, as a woman shouldn’t have to choose between motherhood and a career. “Yet women have told us that their employers make the choice for them by firing them, freezing them out of the workplace, or refusing their request to return to work part time.”

Pregnancy discrimination was found to occur at all stages with a quarter of mothers experiencing discrimination in the workplace during pregnancy, nearly a third when they requested or took parental leave and over a third when returning to work.

However, only a low 9% of women said they would make a formal complaint. Schleiger said, “lodging a legal complaint is the last thing that most expecting mums or new mums want to do, but this means that employers get away scot-free.”

“Many women are not seeking advice because they may be daunted by the thought that they will have to go to court and be prepared for expensive and exhausting litigation.”

The Commission has made proposals to reform the laws that prohibit pregnancy and parental discrimination.

From 1 July 2015, Tony Abbott’s parental leave scheme will come into affect providing 26 weeks of paid parental leave for mothers at their wage or the national minimum wage plus super, compared to the current scheme of 18 weeks minimum wage. If you have a bub on the way or are planning to in the near future, check out Mozo’s high interest savings account to grow your nest egg.

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