Maternity leave (also called parental or family leave) can be a very confusing and sensitive subject with both mums to be and their employers. Chances are that you might not be familiar with all the statutory, legal and technical details of maternity leave. Huggies is here to simplify all the technical and legal jargon and make it easier to understand your rights as both an employee and a parent.
There are other things to consider when thinking about taking (or not taking) an extended maternity leave. Some women may think that they’ll go back to their pre-birth routine and merrily return to work, only to find that when baby arrives the mothering instinct is much stronger than they expected and the desire to be home with their baby is far greater than their urge to climb the corporate ladder.
Other mums may have the opposite reaction to the sabbatical due to pregnancy and find that they miss work, the social interaction, sense of achievement that comes with a career and the mental stimulation that comes from working. Another possibility is that you might find living on a reduced income too hard and too stressful and have to return to paid employment.
Making the big decision
Because it’s hard to predict your circumstances and how you will feel until the time comes, it could be a good idea to keep your options open: find out if your employer is open to negotiating a flexible maternity leave option or your return to work on a part-time basis following the birth of your child.
Before making any big decisions regarding your maternity leave, you should keep in mind that having a child can alter your perceptions about what are your priorities in life. You may end up going down a completely different career/life path than what you thought prior to your baby being born.
You should also discuss maternity plans with your partner before making any big decisions. If you feel very strongly that you want to return to paid work, ask your partner how they feel about staying at home with your child during its formative years. He may secretly long to be the stay-at-home parent but felt it was his role to work! In recent times, because many women now enjoy careers with good incomes, more and more fathers are taking extended paternity leave or getting out the rat race altogether while mum is the main breadwinner. Another option could be for both of you to take an extended absence and then return to work part-time.
Paid maternity leave
Under current legislation, employers are not required to provide women with any paid maternity leave. Australian employers are only required to provide 12 months of unpaid leave to permanent employees who have worked for at least 12 months prior to taking parental leave. However, in the coming years, the legislation is changing. Huggies covers all these changes and explores the following paid maternity leave related questions:
- How much will I be paid from the Paid Maternity Leave Scheme?
- Will I be able to get both parental leave and employer-provided maternity leave?
- Can I still get the baby bonus and claim the 18 week paid maternity leave?
So if you are unsure about any legal element of maternity leave (including recent changes to the maternity leave act), peruse through our maternity leave section and find the answers to your questions.
Paternity leave is the time that a father takes off work following the birth of his child. As mentioned above, more and more dads are taking time off to be with their new bub. However, this is a fairly recent phenomenon and because of this, you may be a little unsure about the facts relating to paternity leave. The Australian government has statutes and legislation regarding paternity leave, which Huggies has distilled and simplified for you. The paternal section includes answers to such paternity leave questions as:
- Who can take paternity leave?
- How long can I take as paternity leave?
If you fulfill the necessary obligations for paternity leave, your job will normally be guaranteed until your return to your employment (this may be subject to change in different states and different industries). As with other employment practices in Australia, it is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you because you took paternity leave.
So if you are unsure about any legal element of paternity leave, peruse through our paternity leave section and find the answers to your questions.
Maternity leave laws
The laws regarding maternity leave in Australia are entrenched in the National Employment Standards act. These laws stipulated govern almost the entire gambit of maternity laws. Huggies explores topics such as:
- Maternity leave for same sex couples
- Maternity leave for parents who adopt
- Employer specific benefits
Huggies has taken this complicated ‘legalese’ and made it easier and simpler to understand. The concise explanations of some of these laws are found within the maternity leave law section. However if anything is unclear to you, or you need more information regarding the legal and technical aspects of maternity leave, contact your designated industrial relations contact or HR department within your organisation or a Worksafe employee in your state. There are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with maternity leave:
- To examine your company policy and employment contract.
- Leave is generally not paid, unless your contract or company policy states otherwise.
Maternity leave letter
When applying for maternity leave, it is in your best interests to be considerate towards your employer. You should speak to your manager or director as soon as you have come to a decision regarding your sabbatical. You should put this intent down on paper in the form of a maternity leave letter. Included within the leave letter section is exactly what information you should have within your letter as well as other pertinent details. The minimum requirement for giving your employer notice is 10 weeks written notice before taking parental leave, although you should try give as much notice as possible.
Maternity leave entitlements
In this section, Huggies explores what maternity leave entitlements you are due with regard to your maternity leave. Questions such as:
- Who is eligible for maternity leave?
- How long can I take maternity leave?
- What happens to my job when I return to work?
- When do I have to tell my employer that I am pregnant?
Whatever decision you come to regarding maternity leave, it’s a good idea to have open and frank discussions with your employer, partner and family before making a final choice. With their support and the information provided by Huggies, you can make an educated decision that would be in the best interests of both you and your child to be.