Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW > Publications > Equal Time Newsletter > Conciliations - Index > Carer's Responsibilities Discrimination - Conciliations

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Carer's responsibilities discrimination - Conciliations            

​​Employment

Mandatory training scheduled during school holidays (Nov 2014)

A woman who works as a child-care worker complained that her employer discriminated against her when it required her to attend scheduled training during school holidays, on days when she was not normally otherwise rostered to work.

The complainant has responsibilities to care for a school-age child, and said that she was unable to organise childcare for the such occasions and the requirement to attend training was unreasonable.

Her employer said that the requirement to attend training was reasonable as there were mandatory requirements the service had to meet for ongoing training of all its workers. The complaint was resolved following conciliation when the parties negotiated training dates which the complainant could attend.

Difficulties with request for part-time work (Feb 2014)

A woman had worked as a systems manager for a university for some years. She took time off to have her first baby and after her maternity leave ended she asked to return to work part time for three days a week.

Her request for part time work was refused, so she suggested a short-term job-share arrangement until she could return full time. She pointed out that there had been part-time or job-share arrangements in the past for similar roles, but this request was also refused.

She was then offered a project-based role which she could do part-time. She didn't want this because she thought it was more junior and had less prestige as it was less challenging and narrower in focus. Although the pay was the same, she would have been answerable to someone she had supervised before her maternity leave.

The woman lodged a complaint of carer’s responsibilities discrimination. At conciliation, she explained that she was really passionate about her job and wanted to get back to work full-time, but couldn't get child care for the entire week. She could only get three days and was on a waiting list for the other two days.

The university representatives argued that it was an inherent requirement of her position to work full-time. They were concerned there wouldn’t be a supervisor available if there was a system crash.

The complainant said she thought she could get a fourth day of child care fairly soon and could work from home on the fifth day or be on call. She pointed out that the person filling the role during her maternity leave had worked on another project for three weeks without having someone cover the role, so it clearly could function within someone being available all the time.

The university agreed to consider her role on the basis of four days a week. This was accepted and it was agreed that the complainant would return for three days a week until she got child care for the fourth day. The university also offered to supply additional technology to assist her to work from home and be on call.

Part-time work request denied

A man was working in the health services industry. He complained to the Board that his employer rejected his application to work part-time so that he could care for his aged grandfather, whose health was in decline. After he lodged his complaint with the Board, the employer victimised him by refusing to employ him until he produced a clearance certificate indicating that he was fit to work after taking sick leave.

The complaint was resolved when the employer agreed to allow the man to work part-time. The employer also agreed to instruct managers about carer's responsibilities and the Anti-Discrimination Act.

Job share refused

Two women returning from maternity leave wanted to work part-time to care for their children. They suggested a job-sharing arrangement to their employer, which would have allowed them to perform all the duties of their positions between the two of them. Their proposal was refused, with the company arguing that the job in question could not be undertaken in a shared capacity.

However the company did not search for other positions that the two women could have done part-time, although new staff had been recruited. The women’s complaints were settled at conciliation conferences, with one woman receiving $4,000 and the other $5,000.

Only full time position offered

A woman who was an accountant with a commercial organisation wanted to return to work three days per week after maternity leave . The employer rejected this proposal. She then proposed that she return four days per week and be available by telephone on the other day. This suggestion was also rejected, because the employer said that her position was a full time role.

At conciliation, the employer said the employee was very valuable to the organisation and they wanted her back, but they needed her to work full time. The complaint was settled when the parties agreed that the employer should pay her $12,500 and give her a good reference.

No job available after maternity leave

While a woman was on maternity leave, a company bought the food distribution business she worked for and existing staff were transferred to the new company. The new company contacted the woman to ask her if she wanted to continue working with them, and she said yes. However, she said that when she wanted to return to work, the regional manager told her that there was no suitable job available, apart from one that was too far away to be practical.

The woman made a complaint of carer's’ responsibilities discrimination to the Board. At a conciliation conference, the company agreed that they had in effect not re-employed the woman after her maternity leave. The company offered to re-employ her, but she declined this. They agreed to pay her $17,000 compensation for loss of income.

Bullied after requesting flexible working arrangements

A man who was a middle manager in the human services industry wanted to negotiate more flexible working arrangements so that he could take care of his young children. He said that after he did this, he was harassed and bullied by his manager.

The manager put pressure on him to make child care arrangements, accused him of not doing enough to find appropriate child care, and made phone calls on his behalf to find the kind of care that the manager considered suitable. The man became very stressed, went on leave and made a complaint of carer's’ responsibilities discrimination to the Board.

The complaint was conciliated when the employer agreed to pay him a separation payment and compensation totalling $10,000, in exchange for his resignation.

Single father stood down

A single father was employed as an assistant manager on an isolated rural property and had lived and worked there for 16 years. On one occasion, he had to take his youngest son to school and received permission from the station manager to do so.

On his return, he was advised by one of the directors that he was being stood down for that week. No reason was given. The man was later told that his position had been made redundant and his employment terminated. This meant that he had to vacate the family home and try to find a new job and a new home for his sons.

The man lodged a complaint of carer’s responsibilities discrimination, saying the director had commented that he would not have been able to do his job and take his son to school. The man argued that his family responsibilities had never affected his work performance and that his employer had given him no opportunity to respond before he was dismissed.

The employer denied that they had discriminated against him on the basis of his carer’s responsibilities, but asserted that the drought and the changing nature of the assistant manager’s role had made their decision to terminate the man's employment necessary. The matter was resolved when the man accepted a payment of $10,000 to settle his complaint.

Roster made childcare arrangements difficult

The complainant had a young school age daughter and elderly parents who required care and support. She worked 20 hours per week, but the employer’s rostering arrangements required that she was available to work 4 hours each day within a nine hour period with no set start or finish times.

The woman complained to the Board, alleging that these arrangements made it difficult to make childcare arrangements and to organise support for her parents. Her many requests to management to negotiate a different roster were refused.

The employer’s response to the complaint lacked any information, which suggested they hadn’t given the woman’s proposal proper consideration. The matter was resolved when the woman and the employer were able to negotiate a new roster which met both their needs. The woman also accepted a payment of $1,000 in settlement of the matter.

Part-time work after maternity leave denied

A woman who was employed in an administrative position made a number of written requests to her employer to return to work on a part-time basis after the birth of her child. She alleged that despite making these requests over a period of more than eight months, her employer put off making a decision until eventually advising her that she would be required to work on a full-time basis.

She resigned and lodged a complaint with the Board. Her employer then offered her part-time work. She advised that she did not feel she could go back to work for this employer and that she had found part-time work elsewhere. She accepted a payment of $5,000 in settlement of her complaint.

Extended hours cause trouble for carer

A woman alleged that the manager of the company where she worked refused to provide her with part-time work after the birth of her child. With advice from the Board, she was able to negotiate an agreement to work part-time until a placement became available at a childcare centre.

She was also caring for her elderly parents and had to help them every day with meals and medication. She said that the management decided to extend her work hours, and she couldn't work these longer hours. She alleged that there was no good cause or explanation for the change.

The complaint was resolved after the Board began investigating it, and more senior managers in the company became involved. They decided that the change to the woman’s working hours was unnecessary.

Not allowed to pick up children

The woman worked as a driver for a government department. She has five children and at the time her husband was the primary carer for them. However, on one occasion her husband was unable to pick the children up from little athletics, so she changed shifts so that she could pick them up. However, when she was due to finish work, her supervisor would not allow her to leave, and cast aspersions on her husband about why he couldn’t pick the children up.

She made an internal complaint and requested an apology, but the supervisor refused to apologise unless the woman also apologised. An internal mediation did not solve the problem. She then made a complaint to the Board.

At conciliation it was agreed that the supervisor would apologise and a small amount of leave would be reinstated. However neither of these things occurred and she was required to work under the supervisor again. She became very stressed, went on sick leave and came back to the Board.

Eventually the complaint was resolved when the woman made contact with the chief executive of the department. She received an apology, had her sick and recreation leave refunded, and received an amount to compensate for lost shift allowances while on leave and other expenses relating to the case.

Leave without pay refused

A teacher asked her employer to take leave without pay for two days a week, in order to work part-time. She needed to spend more time with her children because her husband, who was in the armed forces, was being sent away from home. The school principal refused her request, allegedly saying that he didn’t believe in using leave without pay for carer's purposes.

The complaint was resolved when the school agreed to return the long service leave the teacher had been forced to take, and pay her $3,200. She also agreed to withdraw a victimisation complaint she had lodged after the initial complaint.

Offered lower-grade part-time positions

A woman was employed as a team leader in a large company for a couple of years before taking maternity leave for a year. During her absence, there were some changes at the company. Just prior to her return, she made contact with the company and was told that she could only return to her position full-time, not part-time as she had requested.

She was offered lower grade positions on a part-time basis which she said would result in a substantially lower income and professional disadvantage. She was told that her old position did not exist due to a restructure and the full-time position she was being offered was of a lower status than her original position.

She resigned her position and began retraining in an alternative career. The matter was resolved prior to a conciliation conference being held by negotiations through the Board. The employer paid the woman $12,000 plus $3,000 for training for the alternative career.

Offered consultant status

A woman complained to the Board about carer's responsibilities discrimination after she was initially refused part-time work so she could care for her young child. She then resigned and returned in a consultant capacity, but she felt isolated and the subject of a view that she was not pulling her weight because she was a part timer and the workloads were great.

The matter was settled when the company agreed to pay her $9,000 for pain and suffering, and to publicise its intention to take notice of the carer's’ responsibility legislation.

Not offered redundancy

A woman had worked for her employer for a number of years. While on maternity leave she was advised that several positions, including hers, had been made redundant. She still had another six months of maternity leave left and was told she could apply for any vacant positions on her return.

The woman contacted her employer before she was due to return to work to confirm her return date. She alleged she was told that there were no positions currently available that were similar to previous position and was given the option of moving into other positions, which did not have the same level of responsibility or duties requiring her skills. While other staff had been given the option of being made redundant, this option was not offered to the woman. 

Prior to conciliation conference the employer advised that they would prefer to make an offer directly to the woman to resolve the matter. The woman’s proposal of being paid a redundancy was accepted. She received $11,300 a component of which included her statutory entitlements.

Asked about carer's responsibilities in interview

A woman applied for a professional position. She alleged that she attended an interview with the employer who failed to ask her any relevant questions about her skills, qualifications or experience. Instead, they continually asked her questions about her carer’s responsibilities as a single mother.

She alleged that the employer made it clear that he would not consider employing her because of her carer’s responsibilities. She alleged that after some time transpired and having heard nothing further from the employer, she then made a complaint about the treatment to the employer’s state office.

The matter was resolved when, after lodging her complaint with the Board and the Board writing to the employer’s national office, the employer contacted the woman and they came to a private resolution of the matter.

Request to work part-time refused

A woman worked for a company as an assistant manager of one of its retail outlets. She requested part-time work on return from maternity leave to enable her to care for her baby. The employer refused her request on the basis that the role at the particular outlet at which the woman worked could not function on a part-time basis.

The matter was resolved at conciliation when the employer made an offer of appointment to the woman, as a manager (in a job share situation) at one of its other retail outlets. The offer was accepted as the proposal represented a promotion for the woman and also met with her need for part-time work. She has since commenced in the position and reports being very happy with the outcome.

Job changed while on parental leave

A man who worked for a large bank made a complaint of carer's’ responsibilities and disability discrimination after his duties were changed as part of a restructure while he was on parental leave. He thought that his position was the only one that had been changed.

However, in the process of investigating the complaint evidence was presented that the restructure had been discussed before the man went on parental leave, including the changes to the man’s position. It was also revealed that the duties of many positions had been altered.

The complaint was resolved when the man accepted this evidence. The employer also acknowledged that greater transparency in dealing with restructuring could have prevented the problem.

Time off work to care for mother

The complainant cared for her frail elderly mother. This required her to take time off work to take her mother to various medical appointments. She tried to organise the appointments so that they all were on a Friday, but her employer refused to allow her to take a combination of leave in order to have every Friday off.

The employer said that it had provided the complainant with a variety of other options including working part-time, which she rejected. They said they could not allow leave to be used this way as an ongoing arrangement. The matter was resolved when the woman was granted permission to continue to take a variety of leave to cover the absences for a fixed period of time.

Picking up children

The complainant was a woman worked as a driver for a government department. She has five children and her husband was the primary carer for them. On one occasion her husband was unable to pick the children up after a sporting event, but she was not allowed to leave at the end of her shift. She said her supervisor abused her and cast aspersions on her husband when she told him why she had to go.

She made an internal complaint and requested an apology, but the supervisor refused to apologise unless the woman also apologised. An internal mediation did not solve the problem. She then made a complaint to the Board.

At conciliation it was agreed that the supervisor would apologise and a small amount of leave would be reinstated. However neither of these things occurred and the complainant had to work under the supervisor again. She became very stressed, went on sick leave and came back to the Board.

With the involvement of the Chief Executive of the department, it was eventually agreed that she would receive the apology, have her leave refunded, and receive an amount to compensate for lost shift allowances while on leave and other expenses relating to the case.

Leave to care for daughter

A man complained that his employer refused his request to take five weeks accrued annual leave so he could care for his preschool daughter while his partner was overseas. The employer said this was because of operational requirements. After the Board wrote to the employer, the request was reconsidered and the man was granted approval to take the leave.

Couple wanted overlap between shifts

A husband and wife who were employed as process workers on alternate shifts complained that their employer discriminated against them because their request for more flexible start and finish times was refused. They shared responsibility for the care of their young child and wanted some overlap between shifts to provide continuity of care. The complaint was resolved when the employer's Manager of Human Resources contacted the Board for advice, and was then able to reach agreement with the couple about their start and finish times.

Man needed job near home

A man who was the primary carer for his wife complained that he was transferred to a new work location from which it took him an hour to get home. His wife had epilepsy and regularly had severe seizures, so he sometimes needed to leave work urgently and return home to look after her. There was some dispute about whether there were jobs available at the closer location and whether the complainant had applied for them. The complaint was resolved when the employer offered to transfer the complainant back to the closer work location, firstly on a temporary basis and later permanently.