It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities when you are pregnant and working. You should also try to plan ahead so make sure you talk to your employer and negotiate your work and leave arrangements.
- You are eligible to take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave from your workplace if you have been employed by that employer for a period extending at least 12months
- You can start your maternity leave from six weeks before your due date or earlier if your employer agrees
- You may also be eligible to Parental Leave Pay from the Australian Government
- For more information on parental leave visit: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/maternity-and-parental-leave
When to tell your boss
- Legally in Australia you don’t have to tell your employer that you’re pregnant until 10 weeks before you plan on taking maternity leave
- You are required to tell your employer in writing when you are planning to leave and return
- Your employer is responsible in ensuring your workplace is safe for you while you are pregnant. It’s good to discuss your responsibilities at work and identify any tasks which you may no longer be able to undertake
- If your doctor agrees that the work you are doing is unsafe in pregnancy, discuss it with your employer. They might be able to move you to a safer position.
Paid Parental entitlements
Private Paid Parental Leave
Your employment contract may entitle you to paid parental leave on top of the government’s parental leave scheme. This varies between workplaces, so it’s best to speak to your employer about this, when you’re ready.
The Australian government offers one of two schemes to assist new parents:
Paid Parental Leave Scheme
The Australian government’s paid parental leave scheme is an entitlement for working parents of children born or adopted. Eligible working parents qualify for 18 weeks of government funded parental leave pay.
The scheme is designed to:
- Provide financial support for new parents who take time off work to care for their child
- Increase child and maternal health and development
- Encourage women’s workforce participation
- Promote a family/work balance.
For more information or to find out if you’re eligible, https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/parental-leave-pay
The baby bonus
The baby bonus is an income tested financial support paid by the Australian Government that can also help you cover the extra costs of a new baby or adopted child. The total amount paid is not taxable and received through 13 fortnightly instalments.
For more information or to find out if you’re eligible, visit https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/newborn-upfront-payment-and-newborn-supplement
Paid parental leave and the baby bonus cannot be paid together for the same child. If you’re having twins or higher multiple births you can receive the baby bonus for each child. Further, if you’re eligible for paid parental leave, you can receive the baby bonus for one child and the Parental Leave Pay for the other.
There are laws that prohibit workplaces from discriminating against you because of your pregnancy. If you feel you are being treated in such a way, speak to your boss or human resources department.