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A move towards family friendly workplaces gives parents more choice

13 February 2013 By ACTU

Laws that would give mums and dads up to two months together of unpaid parental leave and choice about when to take time off is good news, said ACTU President Ged Kearney.

She also welcomed giving pregnant woman the right to move to safe duties regardless of how long they have been with an employer.

"Australians have been calling for better protections for pregnant women and more time off for families with a new baby," she said.

"There have been too many stories about employers who insisted pregnant women climb ladders or stand rather than give them a chair and these laws will ensure employers provide a safe environment for pregnant women to work. It may surprise some people but the fact is that many have had to choose between unsafe work or no work at all."

"Men are increasingly choosing to play a much bigger part in the process of child raising from taking time off at the birth of the child to choosing to become a stay-at-home dad," Ms Kearney said.

"Giving them two months to spend with their pregnant wife or baby rather than just three weeks is much more meaningful and acknowledges what an important time this is in people's lives."

"Research shows that the first 8 weeks after birth is critical for bonding between father and child and assists the family in adjusting to care responsibilities."

Ms Kearney said this was also a good time to consider the impact of what a lack of protection laws means for pregnant women.

"I have heard from pregnant women and new mothers who have suffered unacceptable discrimination in their workplaces. Having children in Australia can cost a woman her career and a substantial loss of income and superannuation," she said.

"Women experience significant and unnecessary work insecurity because many employers lack the wisdom to create flexible working solutions. These laws will begin to fix that."

Ms Kearney said she hoped families would not become a political football and that the Coalition would show its support for these worthy announcements.

Media contact: Eleni Hale 0418 793 885

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