Workplace relations minister Bill Shorten intends to introduce new laws governing the rights of pregnant women at work and increase flexibility with parental leave.
Under the proposal, pregnant women would be able to transfer to a so-called “safe” job if one is available. Currently, the ability to legally request a job-switch is only available to those who have been with their employer for more than 12 months. “There's a loophole which says if you've worked for an employer for less than 12 months, there's no requirement for you to be provided with a safe job or in fact for a safe job to be sought after," Minister Shorten said. He added that he cannot envision any such change would invoke controversy.
The changed laws would also ensure pregnant women who are forced to take early maternity leave due to illness are not penalised by having their overall parental leave reduced. The ability to extend unpaid parental leave would also be extended from three to eight weeks, and allow both parents to take their leave concurrently.
The proposals are part of a broader raft of workplace reforms, and follow an announcement that the government would be seek to increase the number of employees who can ask for flexible working arrangements.