Figures released last month by the Fair Work Ombudsman show that for the first time, complaints about pregnancy-related discrimination outnumber complaints related to mental or physical disability.

Of the 235 complaints to the Ombudsman in 2013, 28 per cent were from pregnant women and 21 per cent were from people with physical or mental disabilities.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick says it shows employer attitudes must change.

“Women represent more than 50 per cent of the Australian population. They represent half the talent pool that exists in this country,” she said.

“And smart employers understand that keeping women attached to the labour market through flexible work arrangements, through parental leave, whether it’s the national scheme or a private scheme, are important strategies to ensure that all people can contribute to the productivity and stronger economy of this country.”

Ms Broderick is heading up a National Review in to discrimination in the workplace related to pregnancy, parental leave or return to work following parental leave. Some see it as a parting gift from former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who announced the Review just days before losing the leadership.

Ms Broderick is travelling around the country to teach people how to deal with discrimination and educating employers on good habits and practices. She says it is important for the health of the economy for workplaces to be able to help employees balance work and family.

“We need to be in the mindset which recognises that women and men need to work and care and we need to work to make that fit together,” she said.

YWCA Australia – the national Association of YWCAs in Australia – will be making a submission to this Review and invites you to share stories related to any of your experiences related to pregnancy, parental leave or return to work following parental leave.

A short survey has been developed to gain case studies about this kind of discrimination, as well as about workplaces which can be held up as positive examples.

The survey is here: http://bit.ly/DiscriminationSurvey2013 and closes at 5pm on Friday 10 January 2014.

The survey will also help to inform YWCA Australia’s submission to the Productivity Commission childcare inquiry.

Thank you for your support. If you have any questions relating to the survey, please contact Alison Laird, YWCA Australia Policy and Communications Coordinator, policy@ywca.org.au

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