CRICKET Australia has defended its controversial stance on pregnant female players.
In a move some claim may be illegal, CA admits it asks its female players to sign a contract saying they are not pregnant, with the sporting body saying it is a duty of care issue.
"The safety of any player, whether they be Cricket Australia, Women's Big Bash League or state and territory contracted, is always our No.1 priority,” CA said in a statement amid pay negotiations with men's and women's players.
"We are committed to providing a safe environment for all cricket players (including pregnant players) and all other cricket participants.
"We are well aware of and abide by federal, state and territory legislation, which makes it unlawful to discriminate against a player on the basis of pregnancy or potential pregnancy.
"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.”
CA released the statement to "clarify” its position after The Australian newspaper published a story on Thursday revealing the contentious contractual clauses.
Advocacy group Australian Womensport and Recreation Association said CA's position potentially revealed a reluctance to pay out maternity leave.
"As they are only offering women one-year contracts, not multi-year contracts as the men get, it looks like they are trying to avoid having to honour maternity leave provisions for female players,” the group's president Carol Fox said.
Pat Howard, CA's executive general manager of team performance, said: "In everything we do, we place the health and safety of our players as the highest priority.
"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.
"We are very mindful that cricket involves physical risk, and we need to ensure that our medical staff and players are aware of every aspect that can affect a player's health.
"All our policies have been developed in conjunction with the Australian Cricketers' Association, and together we will continue to refine and improve all policies and contractual clauses that relate to player health and safety.”
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