Nowadays, 20th Centuries, many people would like to enhance or want to achieve the feminism in the society. However, it is hard to achieve it. It is because male and female are very different from their physical and mental thinking. They work as different behaviour in different workplace. The pervasive popular media promotes a stereotype of male and female roles, which is generally inaccurate and often damaging to women. So some employers only think that men are more useful then women in the workplace, especially pregnant women. That means they have discrimination in their mind.
Because of this, there are some laws or acts to protect pregnant women to prevent that unlawful discrimination. For this pregnancy discrimination, anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws will protect them. Now Australia was became a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). CWDAW is a statement of standards agreed by the world community. By supporting CEDAW, the Government committed itself to developing policies and programs to improve the status of women in Australia.
Since then Australia has put in place a structural framework of anti-discrimination measures, strategies and programs to assist women. The single most important step to give effect to the provisions of CEDAW in Australia was passing of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. In fact, the Australian Government delayed supporting CEDAW until it was confident that Sex Discrimination Act (SDA) would be passed. The SDA makes it unlawful to discriminate on the grounds of sex, martial status or pregnancy, in the area of employment.
There is also another Act to protect pregnancy women, that is the Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986. Affirmative action legislation works in tandem with the Sex Discrimination Act. While the SDA prevent specified actions, affirmative action legislation provides for positive actions to be taken to ensure that disadvantaged people are able to compete on equal terms for jobs, promotion, training and other employment opportunities. It seeks to address the effect of past discrimination, specifically in the workplace, and the policies and attitudes that underlie it.
So how these Acts can protect working pregnant women? How can they eliminate discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or maternity, and to require countries to introduce paid maternity leave without loss of career or social benefits and to encourage measures to help workers combine work and family responsibility? Is it the employer can dismiss them because of grounds of pregnancy? If women just had the pregnancy confirmed, even she is a permanent or temporary employee, full-time or part-time; they are entitled to maternity leave.
Casual employees are not eligible for maternity leave. Maternity leave has been available to most Australian women for many years, although entitlements vary greatly. They can start maternity leave up to nine weeks before the expected birth date, and take up to 12 months full-time leave after the birth. With the employer’s agreement, they can choose to take the 12 months on a part-time basis, or a mixture of full and part-time, as long as they return to their job before their child’s second birthday.
Besides, they still paid for when they having maternity leave. If they will have completed at least 40 weeks of continuous service before the expected date of birth, then they will be eligible to be paid at their ordinary rate for nine (9) weeks. But any further maternity leave is without pay, or against other forms of paid leave. And they can also arrange the payment. They can choose pay in advance as a lump sum or fortnightly as normal or fortnightly as half-pay over a period of 18 weeks, or a combination of full-pay and half-pay.
Also their choice can affect their tax deductions too. There are no set times for them to choose how long before the birth that they should leave and how soon they should return to work. They can choose to stop work before the birth and decide to return to work, these are decided by themselves. They can consult with their family and health advisers. Basically, there is no minimum period of maternity leave. If the job will risk the health to the pregnant women or to the unborn child, they can approach to their manager to arrange safer alternative duties.
It may be as simple as providing a suitable chair and short rest breaks, or may include a change in duties or changes in when and where work is done. If they are being transferred to other duties, they have right to check that the salary is still the same as their current pay, the duties and responsibilities are at a similar level or not. If they are not satisfied, they can obtain advice from EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) unit or spokeswoman and then approach to their manager. Downgrading of their position on the basis of their pregnancy can constitute illegal discrimination.
While they are on maternity leave, their superannuation may still available, but there may have some deferral or reduction in some of the current schemes. To avoid this, they should ask for the details. In addition, pregnant women can return back to their usual job after maternity leave. Refer to The NSW Industrial Relations Act 1996 says that on completion of maternity leave they have the right to return to the position that they held prior to maternity leave. If they work as part -time during maternity leave, the job should be the same or as nearly as possible comparable to the job they held prior to taking maternity leave.
If their position is deleted in a restructure while they are on leave, then they should be transferred to a position at the same classification and grade and as nearly as possible comparable to their job prior to maternity leave. Where practicable, this should be in the same location, to conform to the intent of the law. They actually can return to the position before taking all available maternity leave or later, but they should give four weeks notice or less if their employee agrees so that they can return to their full-time or part-time job.
Besides maternity leave, a permanent or temporary public sectors employee who becomes a parent and is not entitled to maternity leave can take one week’s unpaid parental leave from the birth date of the child. With employer approval, the employee may take up to a further 51 weeks of unpaid full-time or part-time leave, or a combination of both. Entitlements for rights of return to former position lose of right of return and abolition of former position for employees who take parental leave are identical to those for maternity leave. On the other hand, pregnancy women can get the benefits from employer.
In an all-female workforce or job classification, benefits must be provided for pregnancy related conditions if benefits are provided for other medical conditions. If an employer provides any benefits to workers on leave, the employer must provide the same benefits for those on leave for pregnancy related conditions. Employees with pregnancy related disabilities must be treated the same as other temporarily disabled employees for accrual and crediting of seniority, vacation calculation, pay increases and temporary disability benefits.
Any health insurance provided by an employer must cover expenses for pregnancy related conditions on the same basis as costs for other medical conditions. Health insurance for expenses arising from abortion is not required, except where the life of the mother is endangered. Pregnancy related expenses should be reimbursed exactly as those incurred for other medical conditions, whether payment is on a fixed basis or a percentage of reasonable and customary charge bases. The amounts payable by the insurance provider can be limited only to the same extent as costs for other conditions.
But no additional, increased or larger deductible can be imposed. From the article that I found, it shows that the Federal Attorney-General asked Human Right and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) to conduct a national inquiry into pregnancy and potential pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. HREOC was published a report Pregnancy and Work Inquiry Report. This report have a recommendation that is the need for clear practical guidelines, education and increased awareness of issues relating to pregnancy and potential pregnancy.
In this report, it found that many pregnancy discrimination cases didn t reported, it may because of the perception that to raise concern of this type would be to risk job security and are too difficult to pursue while pregnant. And they also found that when people have recruitment of pregnant women, they would like to ask about discriminatory questions. This is not respect to them. The employer holds discriminatory assumptions and stereotyping in their mind. They always do things to prejudices towards pregnant women.
Like they always think working pregnant women may affect the ability of jobs. Because of this complaint, it may relate to dismissal of pregnant women from employment, and they become jobless, but this is unlawful. In conclusion, it is very wide that there was a discrimination of pregnant women in the workplace in the world, not even in Australia, it is also very famous in US and British. People always say that men and women have same ability in the workplace, they have equal treatment and workload, but some of the workplace still not has feminism.
Apart from this, there is still much evidence to show that pregnant women are needed to bear some invisible pressure from the workplace. They don t know how to protect themselves and don t know where they can complaint and how to complaint. They have pregnancy, is not their fault. Luckily, there are many laws, Acts and commissions, like CEDAW, to protect them. Pregnant women can ask those commissions to get help them. From this the commissions can create a very important tool to achieve their goals that for women in Australia, and in all around the world.