Hotline for pregnant women facing discrimination

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Hotline for pregnant women facing discrimination

The ACTU has set up a confidential hotline to assist pregnant women who are facing discrimination at work, including losing their jobs.

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The ACTU has set up a confidential hotline to assist pregnant women who are facing discrimination at work, including losing their jobs.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said pregnant women were being fired, demoted, forced into insecure jobs and having their role changed without consultation.

She said employers were flouting laws that made discrimination illegal and causing tens of thousands of women — if not more — significant hardship through the loss of incomes and the undervaluing of their work.

Gobsmacked

‘I’m still gobsmacked by the number of employers who are willing to break the law and act against the rights of their female employees,’ Kearney said.

‘Australia has a significant way to go before we can say there’s equality between men and women,’ Ms Kearney said.

‘Many women feel alone and unsure about how to respond when the culture in their workplace is one that tolerates discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy.’

‘We know this culture is so strong that many women quit just to avoid the expected outcome.’

Fair go

Kearney said the hotline —1300 364 024 — will give women advice about their rights and the steps they can take to protect themselves, report the discrimination and ‘try to get a fair go’.

‘Bias of any kind is abhorrent but when it’s against 50% of the population and for something like child birth then we need to send a strong message,’ she said.

‘We are disappointed but not surprised by the evidence presented to the Federal Government's review of the paid parental leave scheme that shows women workers are being sacked to avoid eligibility for paid leave.’

Kearney said statistics show about 67,000 women had experienced some form of discrimination stemming from their pregnancy.

Four steps

She said women who face unfair and discriminatory treatment in the workforce because of their pregnancy should quickly follow these four steps:
  1. Talk to your co-workers. You’re probably not alone.
  2. Call your union if you are a member.
  3. Keep a diary on every conversation.
  4. Correspond with your employer in writing.
Phone the Pregnancy Discrimination Hotline on 1300 364 024 to find out your rights, because discrimination is illegal.

Kearney said the facts showed that:
    • One in three women in Australia with a child under two say they left the workforce permanently while pregnant or after having a child.
    • One in 10 received inappropriate or negative (discriminatory) comments from their manager or supervisor.
    • One in 15 missed out on an opportunity for promotion, training or development opportunities.

 

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