Building a Claim for Working Women

CPSU members have an excellent track record of achieving new rights for working women in the Tasmanian State Service. The CPSU are incredibly proud of what we achieved together in the last negotiation period, including an increase in paid parental leave to 16 weeks and the payment of Employer-superannuation contributions for any unpaid leave taken within 12 months of giving birth – a great leap forward in reducing the gender gap for women’s retirement savings. 

Earlier this year on International Women’s Day, the CPSU launched the 2022 Women’s Survey to gather data about the experiences of working women in the Tasmanian Public Sector. Engagement with the survey was very high which meant our Women’s Advisory Group have been well-equipped to develop a claim for working women that is timely and truly representative of women’s experiences in the Tasmanian State Service.  

The Women’s Survey revealed the top priorities for working women as we approach the next round of bargaining for the Public Sector Union Wages Agreement.

Reproductive Health and Wellbeing Leave

Introducing reproductive health and wellbeing leave provisions is the next step for improving the rights and conditions of working women. The insertion of a dedicated provision will validate the experiences of workers and create a supportive environment and cultural change in the Tasmanian Public Sector.  

We are proposing to campaign for a clause that would provide any worker experiencing reproductive health issues five paid days leave, in addition to existing personal leave entitlements. We anticipate this clause would define reproductive health to include any condition relating to menstruation, e, menopause, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome and endometriosis, In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) and other forms of assisted reproductive health services, vasectomy, hysterectomy and Terminations.  

To support the continuation of duties being performed by the worker, we intend to campaign for improved flexible working arrangements that would supplement existing entitlements, allowing managers to support workers to manage and/or alleviate symptoms by providing a safe working environment which may include but is not limited to the right to work from home, flexible working hours, reasonable changes to work environment, and the right to access reasonable unpaid leave. 

Paid Leave for Miscarriage

The 2022 CPSU Women’s Survey indicated overwhelmingly support for the creation of a new paid entitlement for workers who experience miscarriage, like what is offered in the private sector. 

The event of miscarriage is a real grief experienced by workers in the Tasmanian Public Sector. Currently, many grieving parents are forced to continue working or access their personal leave to grieve and make necessary medical and administrative arrangements. 

The insertion of a new clause will support grieving workers by validating their experience and providing a practical entitlement that does not burden them with stringent evidence requirements in their time of need.

The Right to Disconnect

One in every three women in the Tasmanian Public Sector reported in the 2022 CPSU Women’s Survey that they regularly work above their contracted hours without being remunerated. It is troubling that the trend of women undertaking unpaid duties, work and care is extending into the work environment. The Employer has a responsibility to ensure that working women are not performing unpaid work and that they don’t feel pressured to respond to Employer-requests and communications outside of their remunerated working hours. 
We intend to campaign for a clause that will apply irrespective of the place of work (whether it be a premises provided by the employer, the worker’s home, or some other place. Work-related communication may include phone calls, emails, text messages, applications, or any other digital means of conveying information electronically. Other than in genuine emergency situations, workers should not be contacted outside of their hours of work. The clause would mean the Employer would breach the Award if they were to reprimand, prejudice, subject to disciplinary action or otherwise disadvantage a worker who does not read or respond to a work-related communication sent outside of the worker’s hours of work. 

Alongside these news rights, the Women’s Advisory Group will also be campaigning for an affirmation statement about measures to reduce gender-based inequality and harassment, and improved provisions for family friendly workplaces.

The CPSU Women’s Survey revealed that one in every two participants had experienced bullying behaviours while employed in the Tasmanian State Service, 35% reported that they had overheard of been subjected to inappropriate jokes, and one in five workers reported experiencing unwanted physical contact or disrespect for their personal space.  

The experiences shared with the CPSU have identified that there is a long way to go to achieve gender equality in the Tasmanian State Service. While there are protections for women set out in anti-discrimination legislation, as well as the State Service Code of Conduct, the Employer should commit to do all within its ability to prevent and eliminate harmful experiences for women in Tasmania’s public sector, and we will be campaigning to ensure it is a workplace that values women and ensures their safety at work. 

On a final note, we want to extend our thanks to all who participated in our 2022 CPSU Women’s Survey. We are incredibly excited about fighting for new rights, voice and pay. 

By standing together in union we can achieve great outcomes for working women, join us today. 

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