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So You’re Pregnant…Now What? | PART 1

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by Lisa Johnson

about 1 month ago

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I did something that completely shocked my boss.  I got pregnant.  When I told him, he scoffed and told me to be serious for once.  I had to tell him three times before he believed me, and when he finally did, you could have knocked him down with a feather (well you probably could anyway, he has lost so much weight he is half the man he used to be). Then we both had a good laugh!

I am lucky, I had absolutely NO fear in telling my boss.  And I told him almost the moment I found out I was pregnant too, whereas I know a lot of women like to wait.  Why did I tell him straight away?  Well, it was going to be a high risk pregnancy and if something went wrong, even in those very early days, I knew I needed his support to recover.  Luckily nothing has gone wrong (so far!).

So when SHOULD you tell your boss you are pregnant?

Well firstly, you only need to do it when it suits you.  If you want to be like me and tell the boss when you are three minutes pregnant, go ahead and do it, but you don’t ACTUALLY have to say anything until you are ready to plan your maternity leave.  Why?  Because in Australia, your employer is not allowed to discriminate against you because you are pregnant – you can’t be fired, demoted or treated differently because you are pregnant.

EXCEPT WHEN…

Your pregnancy means you are no longer able to safely do your current job. If it is no longer safe for you to do your job, then you are entitled to be ‘moved’ into a safe job on the same hours, pay and entitlements that you get in your current role.  This includes employees who are not entitled to unpaid parental leave i.e. if you are a permanent employee who has not worked for 12 months with your current employer, you are still entitled to be moved to a safe job.

If you think that this affects you, you will need to give your employer evidence that you can work, but cannot do your normal job (with reasons as to why not) and for how long you should not do your normal job.  This may mean needing to provide a medical certificate.

What about if you get really sick with your pregnancy – how do you manage that?

I didn’t know this until I looked into it, so I would say that very few of you know it either – but if you are entitled to unpaid parental leave (eg you have worked for your employer for a period of 12 months or more) and you have a pregnancy related illness or your pregnancy ends after 12 weeks due to miscarriage, termination or stillbirth (I have nightmares about this I tell you), you are eligible for unpaid special maternity leave.

You can take this special maternity leave until either the pregnancy ends or you are fit to work (and if it’s illness related, it does NOT affect your entitlement to your unpaid maternity leave).

Note – the government paid parental program IS available to women who have lost a baby, and whilst I expect there are special conditions around this, IF you suffer a loss, you should absolutely check out the paid parental government scheme so that you are not affected (so much) financially when you are taking special maternity leave.  I will put in links at the end of this blog so you can do some more research on this.  And if you do suffer a loss in your pregnancy, I am so very sorry for your loss.
Australian Department of Human Services – Stillborn Baby Payment
FairWork Australia – Paid Parental Leave

Australian Department of Human Services – Eligibility for Parental Leave Pay

PART 2 WILL BE FOCUSED ON YOU AND YOUR EMPLOYER 

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