|Issue No 79||24 November 2000|
Casual Maternity Leave Put to the Test
The ACTU has launched a test case that seeks to extend unpaid maternity and parental leave rights to casual workers.
The leave provisions would apply to casual employees who have 12 months regular and systematic employment with the same employer under the application lodged today with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in Melbourne.
"One in three Australian working women is now employed as a casual. Without the right to maternity leave many of these workers have no option but to resign or be sacked if they become pregnant. This test case is about ending that injustice," ACTU President Sharan Burrow says.
Australia's 2.5 million casual workers now make up 27% of the workforce, up from less than 13% at the beginning of the 1980s. Federal laws exclude these workers from accessing unpaid parental leave regardless of how long they have worked with the same employer.
Ms Burrow said it was time to recognise that the nature of casual work in Australia was changing with more casuals being engaged for longer periods with the same employer. Some 60% of casual women workers have worked with the same employer for more than one year.
"Unions won maternity leave rights for women in 1979. But twenty years later, a third of women workers can't access that right because they are employed as casuals. It's time this discrimination was ended."
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has identified significant discrimination against pregnant casual workers. But in a move Ms Burrow describes as heartless and out of touch with community sentiment, the Federal Government rejected the Commission's recommendation that Federal laws be changed to extend unpaid maternity leave to casuals.
The ACTU will use five Federal awards as the vehicle for the test case: The Clerical and Administrative Employee (Victoria) Award '99 (ASU) Totalizator Agency Board of Victoria (Off Course Tote) Award '93 (ASU) Hospitality Industry-Accommodation, Hotels & Gaming Award '98 (LHMU) Vehicle Industry-Repair, Service & Retail Award '00 (SDA) Retail, Wholesale and Distributive Employees (NT) Award '00 (SDA)
A decision on the test case is expected in May 2001. If successful, unions will apply to have 12 months unpaid parental leave for casual workers inserted in all Federal awards.
Interview: Back on Track
After blowing the whistle on rail privatization, NSW Transport Minister Carl Scully is rebuilding bridges with the trade union movement.
Unions: The Problem with Organising
It may be the new mantra, but Brisbane Institute director Peter Botsman argues that organising may be the wrong to go for a movement attempting to attract a new breed of workers.
International: Burma: Workers Act on ILO Ruling
Energy workers' trade unions across the Asia-Pacific have urged Western oil and gas companies to "cease investment in Burma while the use of forced labour continues".
Economics: Rethinking Incomes Policy
While many have thrown incomes policy out with the Acoord bathwater, Graham White argues it still has a role to play.
History: What Goes Around Comes Around
Labor Council's Mark Lennon argues that while trade unions - and labour history - might be unfashionable, there's life left in both of them.
Education: Peas in a Pod
Both sides of politics must take blame for funding levels in our public schools, argues NSW Teachers Federation president Sue Simpson.
Satire: Hurley Rebukes Actors' Guild: I'm No Actor!
Liz Hurley has responded angrily to claims by actors that she crossed a picket line by filming an Estee Lauder ad.
Review: It's Only a Job
In a stunning new book, author Phil Thornton and photographer Paul Jones have combined to portray working life in all its diversity through the eyes of ordinary people like process worker Sharonak Shannon
View entire latest issue
© 1999-2000 Labor Council of NSW
LaborNET is a resource for the labour movement provided by the Labor Council of NSWURL: http://workers.labor.net.au/79/news3_leave.html
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005