Pregnant women are being fired to prevent them from accessing the federally funded paid parental leave scheme, the Herald Sun reported.
The 18-week, federally funded scheme only applies once women have held their job for an entire year. A submission from Victoria Legal Aid showed that women are being terminated sometimes only a week before they qualify.
JobWatch, the Victorian workers’ legal centre, have received about 6000 complaints regarding pregnancy discrimination in the past decade, with the number doubling in the last 10 years.
"Sometimes they are fired when they disclose their pregnancy, other times they discover their return-to-work conditions are changed when a new manager comes in," Rachel Perkins, founder of JustMums Recruitment, said.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEO&HRC) has received 272 pregnancy-related employment discrimination complaints since 2007-08, the Herald Sun revealed.
Reasons for this loophole exploitation are believed to stem from small businesses’ fear of accommodating periods of leave, according to Karen Toohey, Acting Commissioner of VEO&HRC.
Unfortunately, the recourse for women terminated on these grounds is bleak. Proving discrimination in these cases is almost impossible, as is obtaining compensation or entering another organisation. Additionally, no woman has yet reclaimed her lost paid parental leave rights.