Parliament repeals law that jeopardised jobs of pregnant women

Attorney-General Mark Speakman. Picture: Dan Himbrechts, AAP

Attorney-General Mark Speakman. Picture: Dan Himbrechts, AAP

A law that allowed employers to fire, or refuse to hire, women who knew they were pregnant when applying for a job has been repealed.

State Attorney-General Mark Speakman and Minister for Women Tanya Davies welcomed the passage of the Justice Legislation Amendment Bill 2018, which removes the relevant sub-sections from the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977.

“In this day and age, it’s unacceptable that a woman could be overlooked for a role or dismissed from a new position once it becomes apparent that she is pregnant,” Mr Speakman said.

“These amendments will ensure fair access to employment, which is good for the NSW economy and vital to ensuring gender equality.”

Mr Speakman said women facing sex discrimination in the private sector could make a complaint to the Human Rights Commission under the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984.

“However, the Commonwealth Act does not apply to NSW public sector agencies,” he said.

”These amendments close that loophole and better protect women who are seeking employment, or who are currently employed, in the public sector.”

This reform brings NSW into line with the other states and territories and the Commonwealth.

Mr Speakman and Ms Davies acknowledged “the advocacy” of Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi leading to the law change.

Dr Faruqi MLC introduced legislation to make the change in September, 2017, and then met with Mr Speakman to request the government make this change.

”It’s a moment of pride to see our campaign come to fruition and have NSW finally get rid of these discriminatory laws that protected employers who were unfair to pregnant women,” she said.

“We know we still live in a society where too many people think pregnancy and motherhood are incompatible with work, so this is great news, especially with International Women’s Day just around the corner.

“We only made this change because we pushed for it.

“The fight for social and legal change is far from over, but this is one step in the right direction.”