Do you know your rights in parental leave?

Typically, there has been a stigma in the workplace around pregnancy and parental leave. Consequently, this has led to people being unsure about what rights they are entitled to as a new parent. What’s My Claim Worth has rounded up 10 of the most common questions about pregnancy and parental leave so that you can better understand your rights in the workplace. 

  • When do you have to tell your workplace that you’re pregnant?

You have to tell your employer about your pregnancy ten weeks in advance of your planned finishing date. You don’t have to tell them any earlier than ten weeks prior. If you notice your employer or colleagues act any differently towards you or your role while pregnant or after having announced your planned leave, then you should record these and address concerns. 

  • What if my job isn’t a ‘safe’ job?

All pregnant employees, including casuals, are entitled to move to a safe job if it isn’t safe for them to do their usual job because of their pregnancy. It doesn’t matter how long you have held your position for, this applies to all employees.

An employee who moves to a safe job will still get the same pay rate, hours of work and other entitlements that they got in their usual job. However, if there is no safe job available the employee may take no safe job leave.

  • How much time can I have off with my baby?

If you have worked for your employer for twelve months prior to you taking leave, you will have twelve months of unpaid leave. If eligible, you may apply for government-paid parental leave. To be eligible for this leave, you must have worked for at least 10 of the 13 months before the birth or adoption of their child; worked at least 330 hours in that 10-month period, which is slightly more than one day per week; and had no more than an eight-week gap between any two consecutive working days. If you work for a big company, then they may have parental leave payments of their own, but this varies between companies. 

  • Can you be demoted while on pregnancy leave?

In short, no. If your job technically does not exist upon your return, then you must be offered an equivalent job in pay and status upon your return, as required by law. 

  • Can you be fired while on pregnancy leave?

No. If you are fired while on pregnancy or parental leave, this is grounds for unfair dismissal. 

  • Can you be made redundant while on pregnancy leave?

While a demotion or firing from a company is illegal, a genuine redundancy is legal and acceptable from a company. When being made redundant from a company, you must assess whether this is a genuine move by the company. Factors like another hire being made by the company would lessen the eligibility. 

  • What does discrimination against a pregnant or parental leave individual look like? 

Discrimination can vary both in type and severity. It can be anything from verbal comments and rude emails or decisions to not promote or provide the same opportunities. Discrimination would be to act against parental leave either before, during, or after. 

  • What if I want to work flexible hours when I return to work?

If you decide you want to work part-time in order to continue caring for your child, your employer must consider flexible working arrangements and can decline only on reasonable business grounds.

  • What does breastfeeding look like upon my return to work?

Australian laws protect new mothers wanting to breastfeed. It is against the law for a workplace to not provide arrangements for new mothers wanting to breastfeed. Many companies now have breastfeeding facilities to make it easier for working mums to express milk for their babies so they can continue to breastfeed.

  • What should you do if you are facing discrimination in the workplace?

    1. Firstly, you should figure out if it is definitely discrimination in the workplace. 
    2. Then, document everything. This is important for evidence. 
    3. Start a grievance procedure at work. 
    4. File a complaint with the relevant commission, in the right time frame. 
    5. If necessary, hit the courts. 

If you have faced discrimination at work because of your pregnancy or parental leave, then get in touch with one of our experts to see what options you have.