NSW changes laws relating to pregnant job seekers

by HRD11 Dec 2017
The New South Wales Attorney General, Mark Speakman, has announced a legal exemption that entitles employers to refuse to hire pregnant women will be removed next year.

The amendment will also stop employers from dismissing women who do not disclose they are pregnant when they are hired.

In the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, Sections 25 (1A) and 25 (2A) protect employers who refuse to hire pregnant women, or dismiss women who were pregnant at the time of hiring.

The NSW Government has now agreed to remove these two discriminatory sections from the law.

“It’s unacceptable and out of step with modern standards for a woman to be overlooked for a role because she’s pregnant, or dismissed from a new position once it becomes apparent she’s carrying a child,” said Speakman.

“We understand the need for employers to plan and be prepared for staff who need to take maternity leave, but an agile workplace that accommodates family commitments is likely to attract and retain the brightest talent.”

Greens MP and spokesperson for the Status of Women, Dr. Mehreen Faruqi, gave notice of a bill to remove pregnancy discrimination exemptions from NSW Anti-Discrimination Law in September 2017, and then met with Speakman to get the Government on side.

“We know pregnancy discrimination at work is still a huge problem in Australia and many women suffer in silence,” said Dr Faruqi.

“We still live in a society where too many people think pregnancy and motherhood are incompatible with work, but having these laws that protect employers who discriminate against pregnant women only compound the problem.”

Dr Faruqi added that the fact that NSW has these exceptions means that pregnant women are turned away from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Commission which is “unacceptable”.

“We urgently need to change this law to protect pregnant women from discrimination. I’m glad the NSW Government is moving to remove these discriminatory laws,” said Dr Faruqi.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian added that the changes would make sure pregnant woman were not discriminated against.

"This is a great win for women in the workforce, it's a great win for families," she said.

The change brings NSW into line with other states and territories and Commonwealth law.

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