Jump to Content

Returning to work after maternity leave

Some employers offer paid maternity leave for a set number of weeks to attract and retain skilled staff.

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

Casual workers and those employed for less than 12 months may be able to negotiate leave with their employer. Under most awards, there is no minimum maternity leave to be taken.

Women are only required to take early maternity leave if 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 position held before maternity leave. If that position no longer exists, they are entitled to a role of similar status.

Women returning from maternity leave do not have a right to return part-time. They are only entitled to return to the same job under the same conditions. Many women negotiate returning to work part-time with their employer. Arrangements should be in writing.

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

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

If you have returned, or wish to return from maternity leave and think you have been discriminated against, contact us for advice.

Related information
Pages with related information: