The Abbott Government must urgently address the high levels of discrimination faced by workers taking parental leave if it genuinely wants mothers – and fathers – to stay engaged with the workforce, Unions NSW has argued in the wake of a new report released today.

A report on pregnancy and return to work discrimination released by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission today shows 49 per cent of mothers – and over 24 per cent of fathers – have experienced discrimination related to parental leave.


Unions NSW Assistant Secretary Emma Maiden said the forms of discrimination faced by parents were varied.


“When pregnancy is announced or when returning from parental leave, employees are facing a broad range of discriminatory practices,” Ms Maiden said.


“We are talking about work contracts not renewed, denial of promotions, restriction of access to leave entitlements, denial of training opportunities, and denial of requests for flexible work arrangements.


“It is a completely unacceptable situation when you have half of mothers and a quarter of fathers experiencing discrimination related to parental leave. We need to make sure there is better understanding of their rights across the board.”


Ms Maiden said if the government was serious about making it easier for parents in the workforce, it should strengthen Right to Request provisions with avenues for employees to appeal decisions allowed.


In Unions NSW’s submission to the HREOC report, it argued appeal rights should provide employees with access to the Fair Work Commission for arbitration.

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