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Have you experienced unfair treatment because of your return to work after parental leave?

A recent study by the Human Rights Commission found that 1 in 2 mothers experienced discrimination in the workplace. 
It is unlawful to discriminate against you on the grounds of your:
  • Sex
  • Marital status
  • Pregnancy or potential pregnancy
  • Family responsibilities
  • Breastfeeding
What is discrimination?
Discrimination is when a person with a particular attribute (e.g. pregnancy) is treated less favourably than a person who doesn’t have that attribute (e.g. not pregnant) would be treated in the same or similar circumstances.
For example, it would be discrimination for a person who is pregnant to be denied access to training that others in the same role but who were not pregnant would receive.
It is also discrimination when a rule or policy that is the same for everyone has an unreasonable and unfair effect on people with a particular attribute.
For example, it might be indirect discrimination if there is a blanket rule that says a particular role can only be performed full-time, as this would unfairly disadvantage those with carer’s responsibilities.  *
What can I do if I experience discrimination?
Gather evidence and keep diary notes to support your claim. Be sure to keep copies of all correspondence on the matter.
Speak up and contact FSU. We can provide the support and assistance that you’ll need to raise the issue. 
What is unfair treatment?
Negative attitudes:
  • You received inappropriate or negative comments because you requested or took leave to care for your child
  • You received inappropriate or negative comments about breastfeeding or expressing milk 
  • You received inappropriate or negative comments about working part-time or flexible hours 
  • You were viewed as a less committed employee 
Pay, conditions and duties:
  • Your hours were changed against your wishes
  • Your duties or role were changed against your wishes
  • You didn't receive a pay rise or bonus, or received less than your peers at work 
  • Your position was replaced permanently by another employee 
  • Your employer did not adequately backfill your position during your parental leave and this negatively impacted you 
Performance assessments and career opportunities:
  • You were unfairly criticised about your performance at work 
  • You failed to gain a promotion you felt you deserved 
  • You were denied access to training that you would otherwise have received 
  • You missed out on a performance appraisal 
Job loss/dismissal:
  • You were treated so poorly that you felt you had to leave 
  • You were threatened with or made redundant / dismissed
  • Your contract was not renewed 
  • Your employer encouraged you to start or finish your parental leave earlier or later than you would have liked 
  • You were denied leave that you were entitled to
Flexible work:
  • Your requests for flexible hours or work from home were denied unreasonably
  • Your requests for time off to cope with illness or other problems with your baby were denied unreasonably
  • You were given unsuitable work or workloads 
  • You were given work at times that did not suit your family responsibilities

The above is general information only. For specific advice about your individual situation, contact FSU on 1300 366 378.
*Extract taken from AHRC Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work National Review (2014) survey pp 50-51 https://www.humanrights.gov.au/supporting-working-parents-pregnancy-and-return-work-national-review-0
Contact Details
Finance Sector Union of Australia
Ph: 1300 366 378

Authorised By: Julia Angrisano, National Secretary

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