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Half pregnant response.



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Half Pregnant Reponse Carmen Lawrence - Shadow Minister for the Status of Women

Media Statement - 1 November 2000

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The Government's response to the report of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) Pregnant and Productive: It's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant betrayed Australian women by failing to tackle the hard issues, Dr Carmen Lawrence, Shadow Minister for the Status of Women, said today.

"While Labor welcomes moves to specifically include breastfeeding as a ground of unlawful discrimination, many of the recommendations in the report have been ignored by the government. These recommendations must be implemented if discrimination against pregnant and potentially pregnant workers is to be addressed.

"For sixteen months Labor has been demanding a response to the HREOC report. In March this year, Jenny Macklin proposed a Private Members Bill in March to address these issues, which the government has ignored.

"The announcement today does not explain the delay nor the inferiority of their response," Dr Lawrence said.

The Government has now confirmed that it will not:

Empower HREOC to publish enforceable guidelines in relation to pregnancy and potential pregnancy. ●

Make provision to ensure that unpaid workers are covered by the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. ●

Remove the exemption for education institutions established for religious purposes in relation to pregnancy and potential pregnancy. ●

Make provision for punitive damages to be awarded. ● Change the powers of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to refer discriminatory awards or agreements to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) without the requirement to receive a written complaint.

●

Amend the Workplace Relations Act 1886 (Cth) to extend unpaid maternity leave to casual employees employed for over twelve months. ●

Include provisions in the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to protect employees who intend to, or are in the process of, adopting a child, from discrimination on this basis. ●

Fund economic modelling and analysis of possible paid maternity leave options. ●

"Each of these initiatives was recommended in the original report Pregnant and Productive: It's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant. The report was produced to assist the Government in ending discrimination against pregnant and potentially pregnant workers," Dr Lawrence said.

"The Government must realise that if women are to participate fully in the workplace, discrimination against pregnant workers must be taken seriously.

"The Government's response has confirmed yet again that a change of government is required before Australians can have a Federal Government which understands the importance of helping them balance work and family commitments," Dr Lawrence concluded.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.