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How well does your employer support pregnancy and parenthood?

Bella Brennan

Bella Brennan

Bella is a writer and editor with over a decade of experience in women’s publishing and digital media. In her spare time, she loves making up dances to the Wiggles with her two little girls, swimming in the ocean and trying to sneak away from her family for a cheeky nap.
Created on Oct 23, 2023 · 5 mins read

Finding out you’re pregnant can be a really exciting time! From dreaming up cute baby names to picking a pram and planning your nursery aesthetic, it’s easy to carried away with all the fun things. But then there are all the practical things to consider, too. Navigating pregnancy and work can be daunting. From deciding when to tell your employer you’re pregnant, planning your maternity leave and figuring out what kind of parental leave payments you are entitled to, there’s a lot to figure out. Making sure you have the right employer support throughout your pregnancy can make a huge difference. Here are some of the key things you need to consider…

How do you manage work when pregnant?

When you’re pregnant, finding the energy to get to work and use your brain can be beyond exhausting (especially if you’re feeling nauseous 🤢. Hands up if you’ve ever had to store a sick bag in your office draw just in case? 🙋‍♀️).

Depending on your line of work, speak to your manager to see if you can negotiate some flexible work from home days to save you commuting into the office. Eating small, regular healthy meals and snacks is another effective way to prevent feeling sick. If you’re struggling with morning sickness, keep your food simple and fuss-free (think vegemite toast, wholegrain crackers and ginger tea). Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks, even if it’s just a walk around the block to get some fresh air. Dress comfortably and opt for flat shoes if possible.

Parental leave

Under the Australian Government Parental Leave Pay Scheme, eligible employees who are the primary carer of a newborn or newly adopted child are entitled to 18 weeks, or 90 payable days,  of paid parental leave from the government.

As the Australian government Services Australia website states: “Parental Leave Pay is based on the weekly rate of the national minimum wage. You can get it for up to 18 weeks, which is 90 payable days. It will include both:

Parental Leave Pay is currently $772.55 per week, which is $154.51 a day before tax. Your partner may also be eligible for Dad and Partner Pay for up to 2 weeks. This is 10 payable days. This means your family can get a total of up to 20 weeks or 100 payable days of payments.

As an individual, the total you get from both payments can’t be more than 18 weeks. This is 90 payable days. This is if you’re eligible to get Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay for the same child.

You can get Parental Leave Pay before, during or after any paid or unpaid employer-funded leave. This includes all of the following:

  • Maternity or parental leave
  • Annual leave
  • Long service leave.

Parental Leave Pay is a taxable Centrelink payment.”

Employer-funded paid parental leave

According to the Australian Government Fair Work website: “Employers can provide paid parental leave in enterprise or other registered agreements, employment contracts and workplace policies. The amount of leave and pay entitlements depends on the relevant agreement, contract or policy. Employer-funded paid parental leave doesn’t affect an employee’s eligibility for the Australian Government’s PLP Scheme. Employees can get both.”

It’s a good idea to always check your employment contract for the terms and conditions around your employer’s maternity and paternity leave policies.

It is also becoming more commonplace for companies to offer men several months of paternity leave as long as they are the primary caretaker of the baby. Finally, workplaces are realising two weeks of paternity leave is just not enough!

If you are unsure what you’re entitled to, speak to your human resources department for further information.


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How much should a pregnant woman work?

Again, this is an entirely personal choice and dependant on many variables including your financial situation and medical history. If you don’t have a high-risk pregnancy, it’s completely fine to continue to work throughout your pregnancy.

Of course, this isn’t always the case with many women experiencing a whole range of complications – from hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme morning sickness) to high-risk twin or multiple pregnancies. If you do have a high-risk pregnancy and need time off work, speak to your employer about how best to navigate the situation. Legally you are entitled to your usual sick leave entitlements. You are also allowed to take time off for your medical check-ups.

Should I tell my employer I’m trying to get pregnant?

The short answer? No.

In Australia, pregnant women are protected from discrimination by law. That means they cannot be fired, given fewer hours, or overlooked for promotions simply because they are pregnant.

It is illegal for employers to ask you if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant when you are applying for a job. Your right to parental leave and flexible working arrangements depends on your award, contract or agreement and how long you have been working.

How does pregnancy affect work?

Legally, you don’t have to tell your workplace by a certain time that you’re pregnant but if you are struggling with morning sickness or unwell, you can let your manager know confidentially.

Whenever you decide to tell your employer you’re pregnant is entirely up to you but you will want to give them enough notice to find your maternity leave replacement.

Having a baby can often collide with major milestones in your career. And while you might feel like stepping away from your job for an extended period of time can be damaging, many women have managed to return to their previous jobs while having children. Wherever you land and whatever you decide is best for you and your situation is totally up to you.

Related Articles

8 tips for coping with pregnancy when you’re single

6 things you need to know about self-care… (in the first year)

Returning to work after baby number two (and why it’s OK to ugly-cry at drop off)

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