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Carer or parental status discrimination

Discrimination is treating, or proposing to treat, someone unfavourably because of a personal characteristic protected by the law. This includes bullying someone because of a protected characteristic.

In Victoria it is against the law to discriminate against you because of your parental or carer status, or what people assume it to be.

Employers must seriously consider any request for flexible work arrangements from workers who have children or people who depend on them for care.

Working part time, job sharing, working from home, or starting and finishing earlier or later are all examples of flexible work arrangements.

Examples of discrimination because of parental or carer status

At a job interview, Meg mentions she spends a lot of time looking after her mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. The interviewer ends the interview saying, “I’m sorry, we can’t afford to employ people with heavy carer responsibilities”.

Jasmine is keen to return to work as a marketing manager after taking two years of unpaid parental leave to have her first child. She makes an appointment with her boss to talk about coming back to work, but is told there has been a restructure in the company and Jasmine’s old job no longer exists. No other jobs have changed and Jasmine suspects that her boss simply doesn’t want to have to re-employ her now that she has a young child.

A company requirement that long service leave is only granted to employees with 10 years of uninterrupted employment may indirectly discriminate against parents who are more likely to have taken time off to have and/or care for children.

Where can discrimination occur?

Discrimination is against the law when it occurs in an area of public life such as clubs, schools and shops, or in the workplace.

Find out more about general places of discrimination or learn more specifically about discrimination in employment because of carer or parental status.

Are there any exceptions?

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 includes some general exceptions. This means that discrimination may not be against the law in particular circumstances.

Make a complaint to the Commission

If you think you have been discriminated againstsexually harassedvictimised or vilified, contact us and talk about your concerns. Our dispute resolution service is free and confidential. We can send you information about the complaint process and if we can’t help you we will try to refer you to someone who can.

To make a complaint:

Find out more about making a complaint.

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