Pregnancy clause a question of safety, not discrimination, says Cricket Australia

While the WBBL claimed many plaudits for its initial popularity, much of the media spotlight this week has been away from the pitch. Cricket Australia are in a bit of hot water after it was revealed last week that female players need to declare whether they are pregnant at the time of signing a contract. CA have been criticised for the potentially discriminatory clause – and are under investigation – but have maintained that the question was of player safety, not discrimination.

The Relevant Section of the Employment Contract:

 Pregnancy clause a question of safety, not discrimination, says Cricket Australia

File photo of the Australian women's cricket team. AFP

8.3 Notification of Pregnancy

  • 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. The CA medical officer will not disclose the information to any person prior to the conclusion of 12 weeks pregnancy unless the Player consents to such disclosure.
  • The Player acknowledges that, in accordance with the Pregnancy Guidelines or this Contract, after 12 weeks of pregnancy, the medical officers of CA, her State Association and her WBBL Team (if any) shall be permitted to share reasonable details of the pregnancy with CA, her State Association and/or her WBBL Team (as applicable) to help ensure a safe environment for all cricket players (including pregnant players) and all other cricket participants and to comply with any contractual requirements with insurance providers.
  • Where any records or opinions are made available to CA, the Player’s State Association or her WBBL Team (if any) or their respective medical officers those records or opinions or the results of any examination or consultation of the Player shall be kept absolutely confidential by CA, the Player’s State Association and her WBBL Team (if any) except with the consent of the Player or her representative.

CA CEO James Sutherland reiterated in a press release that “the pregnancy clause has never affected a female player’s right to sign a contract, and we have never, nor would we ever, discriminate against anyone on those grounds. It has only been about ensuring the safety of our players.”

The claims have precipitated inquiries from Fair Work Australia, the body responsible for taking action on discrimination in the workplace. In Australia, employers may not ask a prospective employee details irrelevant to their work, such as gender, age and marital status.

“We will co-operate fully with the Ombudsman”, he added, “and welcome their inquiries because it is always our intention to provide the best support for all our players.”

A larger ramification has been the postponement of wage discussions between CA and the Australian Cricketers Association, which were due to take place this week. For the first time, female cricketers were included in a collective bargaining agreement that the ACA hopes to finalise with CA.

“Players deserve the opportunity to focus on the game, rather than being distracted by a negotiation that should be conducted in a professional and confidential manner. In the period that will see tens of thousands of fans enjoy BBL matches, and the cricket community prepare for another Boxing Day Test, that cannot be assured if discussions continue under current arrangements with the ACA”, said a media release by CA.

The statement came in light of the ACA and CA playing a blame game with regard to the women’s contracts. CA has stated that the ACA was involved in the framing of contracts, saying that the ACA did not communicate on the issue. The ACA has claimed otherwise.

The suggestion that pregnancy guidelines were not issued because the ACA allegedly failed to communicate with CA is wrong on two counts” said ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson. “Firstly, we did communicate with CA and secondly the ACA does not currently have a right to veto female CA contracts or guidelines.”

"We are extremely disappointed Cricket Australia have walked away from the table, particularly so early in proceedings," he added.

The writer is a former international cricketer and now a freelance journalist, she tweets at @SnehalPradhan.

 

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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2016 13:13:57 IST

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