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Perspective

Babies and Redundancy – the cost of convenience

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It is a sad indictment of our community that women are repeatedly made redundant when they become pregnant or when they are coming back from parental leave. It is equally true that every time such a matter comes before the FWC or Federal Court, the employer loses and pays up big.

The most recent case of On Ni Liu v Compuworld is illustrative. Mrs Liu sought sick leave to attend a regular appointment for gestational diabetes. It was refused. The employer knew she was pregnant and engineered a speedy termination by way of redundancy. The impact upon Mrs Liu were tragic causing post-natal depression. The economic circumstances showed declining revenue that could have supported such an action but the substantial reason for termination was her medical condition and pregnancy. She was awarded over $50,000.

Lessons

  1. The law protects, and so it should, pregnant women before they give birth and when women return to work after a child. It is never a reason to terminate
  2. Someone being pregnant (although it disrupts the business and has costs associated with it) is never a convenient time to shed them. The impact on the woman is often terrible and what it says to your remaining staff is equally bad.

Another Jail Sentence for Reckless Endangerment (but under-done)

A Crane company, Pfeiffer was incredibly lucky, as was the driver to receive such low sentences for reckless conduct for causing the death of co-worker on a site in Trevallyn. Pfeiffer was fined $50,000 and Mr Gault, the driver, a suspended sentence. Had the matter been prosecuted in any other jurisdiction, but particularly Victoria, SA or Queensland it is likely Mr Gault would be in jail now. Mr Gault manually overrode mechanisms to stop the crane lifting beyond its capacity. The fatal lift was 130% plus capacity and the crane had been manually overridden over 100 times before.

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