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Discrimination of pregnant workers rife October 23, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discrimination, Women, Workers.

Pregnant women suffer widespread discrimination at work, new figures show, with almost one in 14 mums-to-be denied opportunities for promotion and one in 50 demoted.

A study also reveals only one third of working women take paid maternity leave.

Labor says the Australian Bureau of Statistics study, which surveyed 1,515 birth mothers across Australia living with at least one child aged under two, in November last year, showed women still were being held back at work.

The ABS data reveals 22 per cent of women suffer difficulties working while pregnant.

Almost one in 10 receives inappropriate or negative comments and the same number misses out on training or development opportunities, while about seven per cent miss out on promotion.

About four per cent also report being given different duties without consultation, three per cent say their hours of work have been reduced without consultation, and about two per cent have been demoted.

“Labor is concerned that while the government claims Australia is family friendly, pregnancy based discrimination is evidently still rife in many workplaces,” said Labor’s spokeswoman for work, family and women, Tanya Plibersek.

The study found 66 per cent of new mums did not take paid maternity leave, with about half not offered it by their employer and more than one quarter not eligible for it.

Paid maternity leave was much more common among women in the public service, working for large organisations and in the same job for more than five years.

Professionals were seven times were likely to take paid maternity leave than women who worked in clerical, sales and service sectors.

Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews said separate ABS figures showed access to paid maternity leave was increasing, from 32 per cent in 2004 to 41 per cent in 2005.

“Importantly, evidence shows that the incidence of paid maternity leave is even higher in workplace agreements,” he said in a statement.

The study found about three-quarters of working women took some time off for the birth of their child, and about six out of ten were paid through some form of leave entitlement.

Most women who did not take any leave said it was because they ran their own business, had quit their job outright or did not have access to leave entitlements.

Among women who did not take unpaid maternity leave, one in five said their employer did not offer it and about the same number said they were not eligible for unpaid leave.

Mr Andrews said the government’s new workplace relations changes meant all eligible employees would be entitled to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave under the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard.

Labor has pledged to give new parents the right to request up to two years leave and part-time work if elected.

Source: SMH.com.au

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