Government must consider Labor’s measures to end workplace discrimination

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The NSW Opposition is calling on the Liberal Government to act to put an end to workplace discrimination and strive toward gender equality in the workplace. 

Speaking at the NSW Industrial Relations Conference, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations today urged the Liberal Government to implement Labor’s measures to stop workplace discrimination.

“There should be no tolerance for discrimination but it is a sad reality for many women in the workplace,” Mr Searle said.

“Labor went to the election with a comprehensive plan to address ongoing and systematic discrimination against women in the workforce and take steps toward gender equality.”

Labor’s proposed measures include:

  • Significant enhancements to NSW anti-discrimination laws, to provide greater security of employment for women;
  • Develop and implement leading practices on managing pregnant employees, employees on parental leave, and those returning from parental leave throughout all public sector agencies;
  • Identify and remove harmful stereotypes and eliminate practices and behaviours that perpetuate harmful stereotypes;
  • Create a dedicated unit within the Office of Industrial Relations to develop practical solutions that address discrimination faced by pregnant women and mothers in workplaces across NSW;
  • Achieve a target of 40% of senior positions in the public sector being comprised of women by 2019; and 
  • Achieve a target of 50% of new government board/committee appointments being comprised of women by 2016.

“Workplace discrimination can not only cause psychological, physical and financial distress – it also represents a significant financial burden to the NSW economy of at least $8 billion per year,” Mr Searle said.

“It is one of the areas where the right and the socially just thing to do is also the best for the economy.

“These issues are significant for women, their families and the wider community – and our action or inaction speaks to the kind of society in which we live, or want to live.

“But there are no signs that the NSW Government has any plan to combat discrimination against pregnant women and those trying to return to work, even in the public sector for which it is directly responsible.

“Their federal counterparts are now threatening to rip away paid parental leave, a measure that improves female participation in the workforce.

“It’s time for the Liberal Government to seriously consider our reforms to halt gender discrimination in the public sector – and set an example for the private sector.”