Cricket Australia has been slammed after confirming it asks its female cricketers to declare if they are pregnant when signing a contract.
The governing body confirmed the information after a report in The Australian on Thursday but said that the clause was in place for “health and safety” reasons.
The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), which represents the players, told The New Daily it is hopeful the “anomalies reported in the press today can be rectified” in a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it is currently negotiating with Cricket Australia.
Emily Lupo, an expert in employment law at Maurice Blackburn, criticised the pregnancy clause’s inclusion in contract discussions.
“It’s very surprising and not something I’ve come across before,” Ms Lupo told The New Daily.
“Employers cannot discriminate on pregnancy or potential pregnancy.
“It [the clause] is very unusual and I don’t see any basis on why an employer would need to know that.”
Cricket Australia said on Thursday that it was “well aware of, and abides by, Federal, State and Territory legislation which makes it unlawful to discriminate against a player on the basis of pregnancy or potential pregnancy”.
It added: “Any player who becomes pregnant is encouraged to make her own decision on whether or not to continue playing cricket in consultation with her medical advisers.”
Ms Lupo said pregnancy could not be treated as similar to an “illness or injury”.
“There’s a difference between asking about medical conditions and pregnancy,” she said.
“An employer might need to know about a medical condition if it affects how someone will do their job, but pregnancy is not an illness or an injury.
“A catch-all clause in contracts is clearly discriminatory.”
The New Daily is not aware of any cricketers who have been denied a contract on the basis of pregnancy or potential pregnancy and there is no suggestion Cricket Australia has breached any workplace laws.
The pregnancy notification
Cricket Australia disclosed the pregnancy clause in its contracts for female cricketers on Thursday.
It states that: “The Player warrants that that, to the best of her knowledge, she is not pregnant as at the date of signing this Contract and undertakes that upon becoming aware that she is pregnant, she will notify the details of the pregnancy (in writing, where practicable) to the CA medical officer (or such other appropriate representative of CA or other person designated by CA) as soon as reasonably practicable.”
It also says that a CA medical officer “will not disclose the information” before the conclusion of 12 weeks pregnancy, and that after that period, medical officers from Cricket Australia and the player’s respective teams are “permitted to share reasonable details of the pregnancy … to help ensure a safe environment … and to comply with any contractual requirements with insurance providers”.
General manager of team performance Pat Howard said Cricket Australia needed to know when a player was pregnant.
“Our only interest in whether one of our women players is pregnant is to ensure the health of her and her baby, and we have strict rules around medical confidentiality,” he said.
‘We are negotiating in good faith’
The Australian Cricketers’ Association, in a submission to Cricket Australia, leaked to The Australian said: “Our female members find it outdated at best and rather condescending that they can only sign one-year contracts, making life planning very difficult, while men can sign multi-year contracts.”
It also said that players having to declare if they were pregnant was “contrary to acceptable employer behaviour in any other Australian workplace”.
A spokesperson for the association told The New Daily it hopes a new memorandum of understanding will provide a fairer playing field for women.
“We are in negotiations on a new MOU and as part of that, CA and the ACA have shared submissions with each other,” the spokesperson said.
“We are negotiating in good faith … we are hopeful that the anomalies reported in the press today can be rectified.
“We want an agreement that represents all players. There is no MOU for women’s cricketers in Australia and we are seeking one that binds all.”
The current MOU expires on June 30, 2017.