Pregnant and productive: it's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant
It is paramount that all parties to the employment relationship are well informed about their rights and responsibilities with regards to workplace discrimination. This message was repeatedly voiced during the national Pregnancy and Work Inquiry. Pregnant and Productive: It's a right not a privilege to work while pregnant presents the findings of this extensive inquiry. Information provided to the inquiry indicated that discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and the inability to obtain paid maternity leave are significant factors contributing to Australian women and their partners deciding to not have children or to limit the size of their families. This report presents the inquiry's findings and extensive legislative analysis. It also details existing research that will be useful to specialists, legislators, policy makers and academics. As the first national inquiry into pregnancy and potential pregnancy discrimination at work, this report will act as an authoritative statement about relevant law and practice. On 26 August 1998, the federal Attorney-General asked the Commission to conduct an inquiry into pregnancy and potential pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. The inquiry attracted well over 100 submissions following distribution of the Pregnancy Inquiry Issues Paper. Wide ranging consultations and focus groups were also conducted to elicit additional information. This inquiry is the first national inquiry of its kind.
The relationship between an employer and employee is one of mutual rights and responsibilities. A successful working relationship is one where these rights and responsibilities are respected and implemented by all parties. A number of submissions and consultations detailed how the new agreement-based workplace relations system can help facilitate this. There were also concerns expressed about industrial relations changes contributing to decreased protection afforded to women workers, particularly with respect to pregnancy. The inquiry confirmed that employers and employees are in need of clear practical guidelines that are educative in nature. Such Guidelines will be produced and distributed in late 1999. Increased education to ensure compliance with the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) and how the Act interrelates with workplace relations and occupational health and safety requirements also emerged as a priority.
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