Your Rights as a Pregnant Worker
Balancing pregnancy with work can be challenging for working women but with improved communication and understanding of pregnancy rights the SDA has been able to secure better outcomes for its pregnant members.
SDA member Susan recently needed the support of her SDA workplace Delegate, Gillian, and her SDA Organiser to ensure her rights as a pregnant worker were being observed and respected. With the support and advocacy of SDA representatives at a recent meeting, Susan’s employer agreed to review her roster to accommodate ongoing medical appointments due to a high risk pregnancy. Furthermore, communication issues were addressed, acknowledged and improved, providing opportunity for her employer to provide better support and to satisfy its duty of care to Susan and to the team.
Did you know that as a pregnant worker, with at least 12 months continuous service with your current employer, you have the right to:
- Unpaid parental leave when a child is born or adopted, including maternity leave, paternity and partner leave, adoption leave, special maternity leave, a safe job and no safe job leave and a right to return to your pre-parental leave job.
- Take parental leave when an employee gives birth, an employee's spouse or de facto partner gives birth or an employee adopts a child under 16 years of age.
- 12 months unpaid leave. You can also request an additional 12 months leave.
- Access your personal leave (paid or unpaid) to attend pre-natal appointments for yourself as the expecting mother or for your partner.
- The right to return to full pre-maternity leave hours by the time your newborn turns two years of age.
- The right to request your roster be reviewed to accommodate regular and frequent specialist appointments if you have a high risk pregnancy.
- transfer to a safe job if you provide your employer with evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person (e.g. medical certificate) that you are fit for work but that it is inadvisable for you to continue in your present position during a stated (risk) period because of illness, or risks, arising out of your pregnancy or hazards connected with that position. If there is an appropriate safe job available, then your employer must transfer you to that job for the risk period with no other change to your terms and conditions of employment.
- Paid no safe job leave if you are entitled to a transfer to a safe job, you are entitled to unpaid parental leave and you have complied with the notice and evidence requirements in accordance with the law.
- The right to return to work come back to less than Pre-Mat Leave hours and build up to the full hours by the time your new born turns 2. It is important to understand that if you choose to drop hours without supporting medical reasons and evidence such as a letter from your Dr stating you need to drop hours for the safety of the health of you and or your child then the Co. only have to give you the reduced number of hours upon your return from Mat Leave.
Please keep in mind that Enterprise Agreements negotiated by the SDA often provide better conditions of employment for pregnant workers which supplement these rights. For more information on these rights and pregnancy-related National Employment Standards please check out our website.
You also may be entitled to federal parental leave pay and/or paid parental leave in accordance with your Enterprise Agreement or employer’s policies and procedures.
Members of the SDA should log in and check out your Enterprise Agreement for more information.
The law also prohibits any discrimination or adverse action against a worker on the basis of pregnancy or on the basis of exercising or proposing to exercise a workplace right (e.g. NES, Award or Enterprise Agreement entitlements).