Going back to work after maternity leave
May 19, 2020 News
It’s no secret that having a baby changes your life – and make no mistake it will change your work life too.
Going back to work after a baby has its own challenges to navigate and will take time to get used to – but don’t forget there is support you can access to help ease your transition.
Here’s a checklist to help you take the big step back to work and help you find a great work/life balance:
Contact your employer: Most enterprise agreements require you to contact your employer at least four weeks before your parental leave is due to end and provide them with written confirmation of the date you will be returning to work. This is not required under the National Employment Standards – but it is good practice, no matter what agreement or award you work under.
Know your entitlements: Your employer has certain requirements of them while you are on maternity leave and during your transition back to work. You may not be aware of all of these rights you have as you have not had to access them before – so be sure to know what you can access. The easiest way to do this is to call your union and speak to a trained representative. The union for workers in retail, fast food and warehousing is the SDA. If you’re not already a member, you can join online at www.sdaq.asn.au/join.
Return to Work Guarantee: You have the right to return to the job you had before going on parental leave. If you transferred to a safe job or temporarily changed your hours of work or tasks during your pregnancy, you are entitled to return to the job you had prior to the transfer or change.
If your job no longer exists, you have the right to a position for which you are qualified and suited, nearest in pay and status to your pre-parental leave position.
Negotiating flexible working arrangements: You may wish to reduce your working hours or roster when you go back to work to suit your new lifestyle. If you’ve been employed at your workplace for 12 continuous months before maternity leave and have responsibility for a child who is school aged or younger you can request flexible working arrangements.
Flexible working arrangements can include working part-time instead of full-time, working reduced hours or altering the times when you work. You should make your request for flexible working arrangements in writing. Your employer has 21 days to respond to your request and can negotiate with you on the basis of their business requirements. Before signing any agreement, get a union representative to check it to ensure you are not agreeing to anything that will be detrimental to you in the long term.
Keep a dated copy of the agreement including what days you will be working, what your start and finish times will be,
whether you will be permanent part-time or casual, how long the agreement is for and when you can/must return to your full-time/previous part-time job.
Breastfeeding on return to work: Breastfeeding is a protected attribute under anti-discrimination legislation and there are also obligations under work health and safety laws. So far as is reasonably practicable, you should be provided with adequate facilities for the purpose of breastfeeding and/or expressing breastmilk. This would include a private room, comfortable chair, a fridge to store breastmilk and somewhere to store your breast pump, as required. If your employer is not being accommodating, contact your union for advice.
If you’re an SDA member, you can access more information on parental and maternity leave by contacting us on 07 3833 9500. If you’re not a member yet and you work in retail, fast food or warehousing you can join online at www.sdaq.asn.au/join