About half of women in Australia still lose their jobs or get heavily ‘restructured’ after falling pregnant or giving birth. Many get small payouts in return for never talking about it. This is unbelievable.
Is this what we want for women in the 21st century in Australia? If you have a daughter or sister would you want them to suffer the same fate? Can you imagine men enduring this?
This is almost what happened to me. Some of you know my story and many haven’t heard it yet (but I’m most definitely going to keep talking about it for decades to come!). In the end I gained my job back within a few weeks by working with my union and the HR department of my employer.
I still don’t know what will happen when I return from maternity leave. I suspect I’ll be treated with a mixture of contempt and ostracism. So I guess that other 50% doesn’t really fare well either: well paying and satisfying part-time jobs are difficult to find or maintain (don’t I know this too!) and the rest of us simply have to put up with being treated as less important creatures, as workers who aren’t really serious about their job (I got this accusation already), or we simply have to make do with whatever restructured position we can sustain.
Just be happy you still have a job, get paid and don’t have to accept conditions that are completely out of balance with your experience and expertise. Right. Better suck it up, right?
“There are two times in which these redundancies are most likely to happen,” said Kamal Farouque, principal of employment & industrial law at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers. “When the woman is on a period of maternity leave or soon after she has returned to work.
“The employer thinks that it’s a lot easier if they restructure, make the person redundant and get rid of the perceived “problem”’.
You don’t have to spend much time around new mothers to hear stories of “restructures” that just happened to coincide with them getting pregnant and taking parental leave.
Fifty per cent of the women in my mothers’ group were made redundant soon after they announced their pregnancy or while they were on maternity leave.
‘Women’s role in child-bearing supports all of us. I urge people to look at it in the broader context. Children represent all of our futures and it’s incumbent on all of us to support mothers.’
Broderick says that both male and female employers need to ask what they would want for their own daughters.
“Do you want them to be an engaged mother and be in paid work? If that’s what you want then we need to all support that in the work environment,” says Broderick. “If we can’t accommodate mothers then we’ll lose them and Australia cannot afford to lose their skills and experience from the labour market.’
Unlawful dismissal isn’t just another aspect of motherhood to be endured in silence. It’s an assault on women’s collective power and wellbeing and damaging to the nation as a whole.”