Know My Rights: Changes to workplace discrimination
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What were the rules already?
Facing discrimination at work is a situation no worker should have to deal with. In Australia, we already had anti-discrimination laws in place before December 2022. But thanks to a massive union-backed campaign, those laws have been strengthened to protect more workers. You can learn more about those pre-existing rules in our workplace discrimination fact sheet.
The rest of this fact sheet outlines the changes that came into effect in December 2022.
From 7 December 2022 all working Australians, across every industry, are more protected against discrimination from their employers.
There have been three important additions to the protected attributes of the Fair Work Act. These protections are for:
- Breastfeeding parents
- Trans and gender non-conforming people
- People with intersex status
When does it apply?
It is now unlawful for a workplace to discriminate against a worker because they are a breastfeeding person, or based on their gender identity or intersex status.
This means that an employers cannot treat you adversely, including taking actions like terminating your employment, based on you having a protected attribute.
The definition of breastfeeding includes the act of expressing and storing milk, includes the period where a parent is breastfeeding, as well as individual incidents of breastfeeding.
Gender identity refers to a worker’s personal definition of their gender, their gender-related characteristics, and does not necessarily correspond to their assigned sex at birth.
Intersex status includes anyone whose sex characteristics are neither wholly female or male, female and male, or neither female nor male.
What can I do?
If your employment is terminated or you are treated unfairly on the basis of these attributes, you can now bring a complaint and/or unlawful termination complaint to the Fair Work Commission (FWC).
Your union can also act on your behalf and are well equipped on how to make applications for unlawful terminations to the FWC.
Not yet a member? Joining your union is the most effective way to ensure your workplace is free from discrimination.
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