Gas company Chevron has been criticised for posing intrusive questions to job seekers, asking if they are pregnant, had an abortion, ever contracted an STD or whether they take birth control.
The Maritime Union of Australia is fielding complaints from job applicants, including administrative staff, claiming they were made to disclose personal information which has no relevance to how they do their job.
The West Australian reports job seekers have been given a questionnaire which asks about fertility, menstruation dates, emotional conditions, STDs, smoking status, and alcohol consumption.
The questionnaire includes an optional section on fertility asking questions about whether the job seeker – or their partner- has had an abortion, a stillbirth, sterilisation procedures, or has been unsuccessful when trying to conceive for over a year.
MUA organiser Matthew Elliott said applicants felt obliged to fill in the optional section in order to secure a position at the company.
MUA's national secretary Ian Bray said he is not surprised by the questionnaire, adding the union will not accept this kind of behaviour from any company.
"I am not surprised that Chevron, yet again, are displaying this type of attitude to its workforce," he said.
"This is not only deeply offensive but also has little to do with someone's ability to do any job, whether it be offshore, or behind a desk."
Workplace legal firm Harmers, executive council Shana Schreier-Joffee said asking these types of personal questions isn’t illegal, it’s what the employer does with the information that becomes problematic.
“Employers can only ask questions that have a direct bearing on an applicant’s ability to perform in the role,” Schreier-Joffee said.
She explained that questions about menstruation and female health could potentially breach discrimination laws if the responses make a difference to whether the person gets the job or not.
Schreier-Joffee said some of the questions are necessary to determine whether the applicant can work in hazardous environments but the final decision needs to be backed by a medical professional’s opinion.
A Chevron spokesperson told The West the information is used by medical professionals to assess a job seeker’s ability to work in the role.
The spokesperson said with many of the company’s operations in remote areas there is limited medical care available.
Chevron said questions on reproductive history are voluntary and thus legal.
We contacted Chevron for further comment; they were unavailable at the time of publishing.