Women complained more to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) of poor treatment due to pregnancy in 2012/2013 than ever before, making it the majority of complaints and coming in over the previous main complaint of discrimination on the grounds of disability.
Of the 235 complaints made to the FWO, 28% of these were from pregnant women.
The other top complaints came from people with disabilities (21%) and those who had family or carer responsibilities (11%).
“Sadly, it’s not a surprise,” Ged Kearney, president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, told News Ltd. “It really is astounding, the number of women who contact us.” The ACTU have fielded complaints via a pregnancy discrimination hotline.
Former acting FWO Leigh Johns previously outlined four key manifestations of pregnancy discrimination:
Failing to let an employee take parental leave.
Declining to keep a job open.
Demotion during pregnancy or on return from parental leave.
Refusal to promote an employee because they are pregnant.
Employees have the right to return to their previous job when they return to work after parental leave. If an employer’s organisation changes while an employee is on parental leave, they must consult with the employee while they are on leave.
While employees are entitled to parental leave, they must notify their employer at least 10 weeks before they plan to leave. They must also confirm the dates four weeks before the leave starts. Generally, pregnant women start parental leave six weeks before their due date, meaning they must give notice in writing at 24 weeks.
The news comes about shortly after The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review began in late October – urging men, women and community organisations aware of discrimination against pregnant women to submit online. Those wishing to submit can do so here.