Shop reduced pregnant worker’s hours

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Shop reduced pregnant worker’s hours

A Melbourne retailer will pay compensation for breaching discrimination laws by reducing a pregnant worker’s hours, the Fair Workplace Ombudsman reports.

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A Melbourne retailer will pay compensation for breaching discrimination laws by reducing a pregnant worker’s hours, the Fair Workplace Ombudsman reports.
 
The company, Shawna Pty Ltd, which trades as home wares retail outlet ‘Good Housekeeping Australia — Cranbourne’ has agreed to apologise and pay compensation, as well as revamp its workplace policies.
 
The corrective actions are part of the terms of an Enforceable Undertaking it has entered into with the Fair Work Ombudsman.
 
Text message
 
The employee, a retail assistant in her early 20s, informed Shawna’s owner-operator, Hui Zhou, that she was pregnant in 2011. Zhou then sent her a text message stating: ‘You have a baby now, and I can’t let you too tires (sic).’
 
Zhou later told the employee — who was working 23–27 hours per week before becoming pregnant — that her work hours would be reduced to only seven per week and she could accept this or resign.
 
The employee subsequently resigned, in what the Fair Work Ombudsman found was a ‘constructive dismissal’ of the employee under workplace laws.
 
Following a complaint from the employee, Fair Work Inspectors investigated and the owner-operator admitted breaches after workplace laws were explained.
 
Unlawful
 
Under the Fair Work Act 2009, it is unlawful to discriminate against employees on a range of grounds, including pregnancy, race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status and family or carer responsibilities.
 
Discriminatory behaviour can include dismissing or threatening to dismiss an employee, reducing an employee’s hours, denying training and promotion opportunities or refusing to employ, promote or train an employee.
 
Zhou also admitted her company breached workplace laws by not having a proper written employment agreement with the staff member.
 
As part of an Enforceable Undertaking entered into with the Fair Work Ombudsman, Zhou, a Chinese immigrant, has agreed to place an advertisement detailing the breaches in The Daily Chinese Herald newspaper to raise awareness of pregnancy discrimination laws among the Chinese community in Australia.
 
Zhou also agreed to:
  • pay the employee $2000 compensation for economic and non-economic loss suffered
  • make a formal written apology to the employee
  • develop processes for ensuring future compliance with workplace laws
  • commission annual professional workplace relations training for all Shawna directors for the next three years
  • prominently display a public notice detailing its breaches of workplace laws at its business premises.
Copies of the Enforceable Undertaking are available in both English and Mandarin on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has also launched 14 Online videos to assist foreign workers to understand their workplace rights and entitlements.

 
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