Complex carer’s legislation will wait awhile: Anti-Discrimination Board

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Complex carer’s legislation will wait awhile: Anti-Discrimination Board

The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act amendments on carer’s responsibilities were unlikely to be introduced before the end of this year, according to the Acting President of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (A-DB).

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The NSW Anti-Discrimination Act amendments on carer’s responsibilities were unlikely to be introduced before the end of this year, according to the Acting President of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board (A-DB).

 

Maggie Smyth, who is also the manager of the A-DB’s legal and policy branch, told a Sydney conference on HR Law last week that, in the Board’s view, the amendments were so significant that people needed time to understand them and get used to them.

She said although the amendments were passed on May 31, it was likely to be the end of the year before the amendments were proclaimed.

The amendments prevent direct and indirect discrimination in all areas of employment, when a worker needs to take time to care for a broad range of people, including, for example, a brother or sister of the worker or worker’s spouse or former spouse (see HR Link 61/2000).

While the amendments don’t apply in workplaces of five or fewer employees, or in private households, Smyth said they would ensure most businesses thought before introducing conditions or policies that would impact differently on different groups.

For example, she said, employers would now have to think beforehand about the notice they gave workers on shifts (those with children may not be able to find alternative care for them at short notice). And they would have to show that the expectation of a worker doing 12-hour shifts was 'reasonable in all the circumstances'.

Smyth said while employers could now have to address reorganising certain work practices, she didn’t think they would be too hard to think about.

She said the recent Schou v State of Victoria case (see HR Link 89/2000) illustrated that a workplace dealing with issues of family responsibility often comes down to things that are 'relatively minor' in the overall scheme.

In that case, a parliamentary editor received more than $160,000 compensation after resigning because her employer had delayed installing a modem so she could work from home while caring for her sick child.

 

 

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