Can discrimination against a pregnant employee breach a workplaces' health and safety obligations?
Laws to protect workers’ health and safety exist in all Australian jurisdictions. While WHS laws do not specifically cover workplace discrimination, they do impose important obligations on employers to ensure that the workplace is safe for all employees, including pregnant or potentially pregnant employees and women returning to work after childbirth. Given the adverse impact that discrimination has on the mental health of most workers who experience it, workplaces that conduct or permit pregnancy/return to work discrimination are also potentially in breach of their work health and safety obligations pertaining to eliminating or minimising safety risks of psychological injury.
Assistance for employers on how to accommodate the work health and safety needs of women during pregnancy and when returning to work after childbirth (including breastfeeding), visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website and its report on helping working parents here.