Anti-discrimination rules which allegedly contained loopholes on the grounds of pregnancy have been tightened by a State Parliament, banning employers from treating pregnant women and mothers differently.
Associate Professor Anna Cody, director of the Kingsford Legal Centre, praised the NSW Parliament for removing “outdated” exemptions to anti-discrimination laws.
“The Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW) contained exemptions that allowed employers to not hire or dismiss women if they were pregnant at the time they applied, interviewed or were hired for a job,” Dr Cody claimed.
“These exemptions permitted discrimination against pregnant women, were outdated, and the NSW Attorney-General deserves praise for removing them.”
Dr Cody said the amendments are “a positive step to meet our obligations under international human rights law to promote equality and non-discrimination”, which are in line with the other states and territories as well as federal laws.
She called on employers to stand by mothers and pregnant workers and not engage in discriminatory behaviour.
“Women, including pregnant women, make a valuable contribution to the workforce and should not face discrimination at work on the basis of pregnancy,” said Dr Cody.
“Sadly, pregnancy and family responsibilities discrimination remains prevalent in Australia, with one in two mothers experiencing discrimination at work during pregnancy, parental leave or return to work.”
Earlier this year a Sydney travel agency was found to have unfairly dismissed a pregnant employee, despite the business claiming that the woman’s pregnancy was not the cause of her sacking.
Meanwhile the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) recently commended two firms for announcing that they would begin paying superannuation contributions for employees on parental leave in a bid to help stem the gap in retirement savings between men and women.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.