Pregnancy is an amazing experience, but if you have worked tirelessly to secure your place of employment in your organization and set yourself on a steady career path, it is not just a time of toys and nurseries, it may also be a difficult and confusing time.
What will happen to your job? Can you continue to build your career? Will your manager consider you a liability?
Luckily, the Australian and State Governments understand these concerns and legislation has been put in place to ensure your rights as an employee are protected.
Having a child doesn’t mean the end to your career. Below is some basic information about your rights, as a pregnant woman, in the workplace.
Getting a Job
If you are pregnant and in search of work, it can sometimes feel like the whole world is against you — but rest assured, the law is on your side. If you apply for a position, the potential employer must give you the same consideration as any other candidate. Advising them of your situation is the best way to start off a working relationship, and if you’re already in maternity wear it’s likely they can guess!
While they can ask about your pregnancy in order to ascertain requirements or restrictions you may have, they can’t use the information against you. There are a few exceptions to the rule, and these basically relate to short-term contracts that require work to be completed in a time within which your birth will make completion impossible, or if a significant part of the role poses OH&S risks to you or your baby.
While working prior to the arrival of your baby, there are also certain rights extended to you. The most obvious is the right not to be harassed in the workplace. In addition to this, if your condition means you can no longer safely perform your duties, you may ask to be moved to a more appropriate position, at the same pay rate.
Taking Maternity Leave
When it comes to your maternity leave, you do have the right to take unpaid leave if you meet employment length criteria with your current employer. However, paid leave is at the discretion of your employer if it is a company policy or in the hands of government criteria if you are considering applying for the Federal Government paid maternity leave scheme. In order to be approved for maternity leave, you will need to fill out special forms and notify your employer several weeks prior to your return to work.
If you need to take further leave due to pregnancy related illness, there is also the option of special maternity leave.
Getting Back to Work
Going back to work can be difficult, especially if you are not inclined to leave your baby in child care regularly and you don’t have family support to otherwise look after the child. While you can’t request to return to work in your full-time position, but undertake it on a part time basis, most states do have regulations in place for the provision of more flexible work options for parents and carers with responsibilities.
Talk to your manager and your HR division, they will be able to advise you of what is possible so you can select the most suitable arrangement for all of involved.
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