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Caring responsibilities

Caring responsibilities discrimination is treating people unfairly because they have a responsibility to care for a dependent child or for an immediate family member who is in need of care and support.

Immediate family members include:

  • a spouse or domestic partner (including exes)
  • parents, grandparents, siblings, adult children or grandchildren
  • corresponding relatives of one's spouse or domestic partner (in-laws).

An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person also has caring responsibilities if he or she has responsibilities to care for and support any person to whom they are related under applicable kinship rules.

It is unlawful to treat a person unfairly because he or she has caring responsibilities (direct discrimination) or to set requirements that are especially difficult for carers to meet and are unreasonable (indirect discrimination).

It is also unlawful to treat someone unfairly because of assumptions made about carers, e.g., that they will be late for work or that their mind will not be on the job.

Example - Direct

Damien, a single father of two, was told by his employer that he would not be sent on a training course offered to his co-workers, because the employer did not think Damien would be looking for any promotion or new duties while the boys were still in school. Damien could claim he was discriminated against because of his caring responsibilities.

Example - Indirect

A workplace set a requirement that all staff start by 8 a.m. Nerida's elderly mother has Alzheimer's disease and Nerida cares for her at home. She has to wait for another carer to arrive at 7 45 a.m. before she can leave for work. It is more difficult for Nerida to get to work by 8 than for a co-worker with no caring responsibilities. If there is no good reason why all staff must start at 8 a.m. then the requirement could be unlawful discrimination.

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