Pregnancy is an incredibly exciting part of your life, but it also comes with a few unique challenges. In particular, working mothers sometimes struggle to find the right way to inform their employer. This topic is often covered in baby classes provided by your birthing clinic or local hospital. During those classes, your healthcare professional can provide advice on how and when to tell your employer that you’re pregnant.
If you’re concerned about informing your employer, there’s no need to be. Everyone working in Australia is protected by the Fair Work Act. The Fair Work Act prevents discrimination due to pregnancy and ensures your employer treats you safely and fairly while you’re carrying your baby.
When to Tell Your Employer that You Are Pregnant
Generally speaking, there is no legal requirement for you to notify your employer about your pregnancy. If you’re taking unpaid parental leave under the Fair Work Act, you’ll be entitled to start your leave sometime during the last 6 weeks of your pregnancy. With that said, it’s a good idea to help your employer plan for your maternity leave period. One of the main concerns employers have is the difficulty with filling your role for a limited amount of time. By giving them plenty of notice, your employer will have a chance to find and train your replacement.
As a rule of thumb, it’s common to give at least 10 weeks’ notice of your intention to take maternity leave. Since most parental leave agreements assume that your leave will commence 6 weeks before your due date, it’s also a common courtesy to give your employer more notice than that.
Don’t forget to check your employment contract to find out if your employer has their own requirements! Some employment contracts require you to provide notice much sooner than your final trimester. Check your contract or speak to a HR representative to find out more.
How to Tell Your Boss You Are Pregnant
Telling your boss that you’re pregnant doesn’t need to be daunting. Australia’s anti-discrimination legislation protects you from unfair treatment during your pregnancy. That means all you need to do is figure out the details with your boss and help them prepare for your absence. We have a few simple tips for making your pregnancy announcement a happy and productive occasion:
- Prepare yourself ahead of time and make sure you know whether you’re entitled to any employer-funded parental leave. Re-read your employment contract and use the Australian Government’s website to familiarise yourself with parental leave entitlements.
- Speak to your direct manager first and share your joy with them. Making a happy announcement of your pregnancy will decrease workplace stress and it’s a good way to let your employer know that you’re still part of the team.
- Go in with a plan and provide as much detail as you can about when you are due, when your leave needs to begin, and when you intend to return to work. Giving your manager a plan shows that you have definite intentions to return to work when you’re able.
- Request a written copy of any agreement you reach with your employer. It’s often a good idea to have a more formal meeting with your HR representative to hammer out the details. Once that’s done, ask them to put the information in an email so that you have a record of your agreement.
Parental Leave Entitlements in Australia
One of the main reasons to tell your employer about your pregnancy is to arrange parental leave. Parental leave typically begins 6 weeks before your due date to give you time to rest, make your final preparations and attend things like baby classes. Depending on your job and industry, you may be entitled to three different types of parental leave:
- Paid Parental Leave – Eligible employees in Australia can access up to 18 weeks of paid parental leave. Under the paid parental leave scheme, you’ll be able to take a continuous period of 12 weeks leave to care for your baby, as well as up to 6 weeks of flexible paid leave that you can take as and when you need it. Australia’s parental leave pay is the national minimum wage rate (currently $812.45 per week).
- Unpaid Parental Leave – Under Australia’s National Employment Standards (NES), all Australian employees who have completed 12 months of continuous service with their employer are entitled to unpaid parental leave. The unpaid parental leave scheme allows you to take up to 12 months of leave as a single continuous period. Up to 6 weeks of unpaid parental leave may be used flexibly at any time within 24 months of your baby’s birth.
- Employer-Funded Paid Parental Leave – Finally, some employers offer their own parental leave schemes. Employer-funded schemes are often used as a workplace perk to allow you to take time off to care for your baby and then return to work when you’re able. Employer-funded schemes vary widely and your entitlements will vary depending on your individual agreement. Speak to your employer about their maternity leave schemes and whether you’re eligible.