Push for new workplace rights on pregnancy discrimination and domestic violence

Australian Unions lodged a claim with the Fair Work Commission to give more than four million Australian workers who are covered by an award the right to return to work after parental leave either part time or on reduced hours.

he ACTU lodged the new claim for family friendly hours with the Fair Work Commission under the review of modern award agreements currently underway, as well as the full details of its domestic violence leave claim.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the claims will increase women’s participation in the workforce, help end pregnancy discrimination and boost economic growth.

“Having more women in paid employment increases government revenue through income tax, increases economic demand through higher household wealth and spending, and improves economic independence for women with less reliance on welfare,” said Ms Kearney.

Increasing women’s participation in the workforce in Australia by 6 per cent from current levels could increase GDP by as much as $25 billion, according to a G20 report by the OECD, ILO, IMF and World Bank.

“The Government says its new Families Policy will increase women’s participation in the workforce but has no details – our claims are realistic and achievable,” Ms Kearney said.

“Currently employees have the right to request flexible work arrangements under the Fair Work Act but employers are not obliged to reasonably accommodate the request.

“The ACTU claim recognises that all workplaces are different and doesn’t dictate specific terms – instead it puts in place a process that requires employers to genuinely consider alternative work arrangements when women return to work.

The ACTU claim for family friendly work arrangements includes these entitlements:

  • An employee who is returning to work after taking parental leave and has responsibility for the care of a child is entitled to return to the position they held prior to taking parental leave part time or on reduced hours
  • If there are substantial business grounds or where the position no longer exists, the employer must offer to accommodate the employees return to work on reduced hours in a position that is equivalent in status and pay
  • The employer can only refuse to accommodate these requests on substantial business grounds
  • An employee who has changed their work arrangements has the right to revert to the position and work arrangements they held prior to taking parental leave two years from the birth or adoption of their child, or later by agreement with their employer
  • Two days paid leave to attend appointments associated with pregnancy, adoption or permanent care orders.

The ACTU’s award clauses for family friendly hours and domestic violence was lodged with the Fair Work Commission at 4pm on Monday 16 February.