Mums-To-Be Face Discrimination at Workplace

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Pregnant woman sits on the floor at a hospital in Minakaman
A pregnant woman sits on the floor at a hospital in Minakaman June 26, 2014. Reuters

The federal government has said that workplace discrimination against pregnant women should be stopped, more work needs to be done and it won't be fair to alter work laws to solve the problem.

Australian Human Rights Commission recently published a news report that stated that one out of every two mothers have faced work discrimination at some point in their professional lives, either through pay reduction or losing their job.

One woman had reported to the commission that she was asked to consider an abortion if she wanted to keep working. Elizabeth Broderick, sex discrimination commisioner, during her career, had heard many instances like these which included a woman, who was fired from her job, being left homeless.

Many women are facing struggles at the workplace when they opt to take parental leave during the course of their pregnancy. The women, in such a case, find it difficult to manage their professional and personal lives.

A number of recommendations including that of strengthening anti-discrimination laws were included in the report, to which the government has reacted in a cold manner. The right to request flexible work arrangements is an inclusion to the Fair Work Act that the unions are hoping for. Currently, employers do not have to oblige to employees' request to be flexible to work timings.

The minister assisting the prime minister in cases related to women, Michaelia Cash had said that the government intended to stick to its election promise and will not change work laws but that the prime minister's office is willing to listen to stakeholders and their views.

$150,000 is being provided by the government to the commission to develop tool kits to reduce discrimination at work places. The chief of Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Kate Carness, said that work discrimination should not be considered a legal issue but is a people's issue.

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