Gillard wants women’s rights probed

AFP-JIJI

The government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Saturday asked the Human Rights Commission to launch an inquiry into the treatment of women in the workplace, marking a return to the vexed issue of gender equality.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick will oversee a national survey to assess the prevalence, nature and consequences of discrimination relating, in particular, to pregnancy at work and return to work after parental leave.

The inquiry will convene a series of roundtable forums with industry and employer groups, unions, workers and other organizations before preparing recommendations to reduce discrimination.

“There is significant anecdotal evidence that women in particular are being demoted, sacked, or having their role or hours unfavorably ‘restructured’ while on parental leave or on their return from leave,” Attorney General Mark Dreyfus said.