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Managing maternity leave

You can attract and retain skilled staff by offering paid maternity leave for a set number of weeks.

All staff, except casual staff with less than 12 months continuous service in one workplace, are entitled to a maximum of 52 weeks unpaid maternity leave.

Consider negotiating maternity leave with casual staff and those employed for less than 12 months. Under most awards, there is no minimum maternity leave that staff must take.

Women are only required to take early maternity leave if no suitable alternatives are available, and there is an occupational health and safety reason for them to leave the workplace.

Under equal opportunity law, women are entitled to return to the same job held before maternity leave. If that job no longer exists, they are entitled to a role of similar status.

Women returning from maternity leave do not currently have a right to return part time. They are only entitled to have their job back under the same conditions. You can negotiate returning to work part time and put arrangements in writing.

Recent court decisions indicate that, under state and federal equal opportunity law, employers are obliged to:

  • ensure staff are not disadvantaged by taking maternity leave
  • accommodate any reasonable request for flexible work arrangements.

If you are unsure how to manage a staff member's return to work after maternity leave, contact us for advice.

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