The Guardian • Issue #2105

Queensland Unions: LNP views of women antiquated, unsupported

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2105
Women at work.

Etching: Rini Templeton

Queensland Unions, the peak body representing 400,000 Queensland workers, says Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes’ comments that employers would be “reluctant to hire or promote women” if they’re afforded paid reproductive health leave contradict research and regress women’s fight for gender equality.

Breaking research by the McKell Institute into paid reproductive health leave supports the union’s call for an extension of reproductive leave as a minimum national employment standard for working people of all genders.

Jacqueline King, General Secretary of Queensland Unions said in the fight for gender equality, improved workplace productivity and participation and work/life balance, leave which specifically addresses working people’s need to manage issues and planning related to reproductive health is an entitlement that works for everyone.

“Comments like those … simply confirm how out of touch the Coalition is when it comes to their views on women and women’s participation in the workforce, and don’t at all resonate with the McKell Institute’s research findings.”

McKell Institute Executive Director Dr Gemma Beale said a minimum entitlement of 10 days paid reproductive health leave makes sense, acknowledging every person may be impacted at some stage in their working life by a broad range of issues related to their reproductive health.

“Our research looked at the many ways reproductive health leave can impact people’s ability to participate in work, and found leave of this specific nature would reduce absenteeism and increase productivity,” Dr Beale said.

“Our report found the inclusion of paid reproductive leave in the Fair Work Act would level the playing field for workers experiencing, treating and managing their reproductive health, as well as help address the stigma and silence around many of these issues.”

King said women do not see their experiences reflected in statements like those of Senator Hughes, which imply that women should suffer in silence when it comes to issues relating to menopause or reproductive health if they’re going to keep up with their male colleagues.

“It wasn’t that long ago sentiments of a similar attitude were being thrown around in relation to women’s equal pay and maternity leave, meaning when it comes to breaking down gender barriers relating to women’s workforce participation, the LNP are dependably prehistoric,” King said.

Queensland Unions have led the campaign for paid reproductive health leave, progressing the entitlement for access later this year for Queensland public sector workers and gaining support for this claim as a National Employment Standard at the ACTU Congress.

A national employment standard for paid reproductive leave is all-encompassing and will cover all reproductive health matters, including fertility and IVF treatment, reproductive health conditions like endometriosis, preventative screening for things like breast and prostate cancer, and other treatments like hysterectomies and vasectomies.

“We know that one million Australian women have been diagnosed with endometriosis. One in six couples will experience fertility issues. Early detection of breast or prostate cancer can save lives. Access to additional leave and flexible work options will help them manage these issues better.”

Queensland Unions/The McKell Institute

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