Maternity leave checklist
|A Paid Parental Leave Scheme was introduced on January 1, 2011. Read more in our Paid Parental Leave article.|
1. Consider your personal circumstances
Take some time to clearly and realistically consider your own situation and expectations in regards to taking maternity leave.
- Discuss plans with your partner – though it may be an emotional subject, it is important you both agree on plans for after the baby arrives in terms of care and family income.
- When would you like to ideally start maternity leave?
- When do you plan to return to work?
- Will your partner also take parental leave?
- Would you like to return to work full time or part time after the baby is born?
2. Understand your financial situation
Even before the baby is born, you will have a lot of expenses which you may not have thought of. Just the basics of setting up a nursery for your baby can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Then of course there are ongoing costs as your child/ren grow.
- What will be the financial implications on your family should you have unpaid maternity leave?
- Can you continue to afford essentials such as food, transport and rent/mortgage repayments if your income was to stop or be reduced for up to a year while on maternity leave?
- Do you have savings or an emergency fund to fall back on if necessary?
- What is your current cost of living and how will this change once the baby arrives, and continue to change as your child/ren grow?
- What are your spending habits and could these perhaps change if necessary to be able to survive on a lower income – for example, instead of buying brand new baby items there are many second hand options to consider.
3. Check Government entitlements
- The Federal government offers various regular payments to help towards the cost of raising children, many of which are dependent upon your level of (joint) income.
- Once the baby is born, what kind of financial compensation will you receive from the government?
- What is the current amount of bulk payment after the birth (also known as the "baby bonus"), are you entitled to this and over what time frame will this be paid?
- Which ongoing government payments will you receive and how will these be affected by your level of income? (e.g. Family Tax Benefit A, Family Tax Benefit B)
- What other payments are possible from the government and what are the requirements to receive these? (e.g. Immunisation Allowance)
- How will the amounts of these benefits be affected if you are on paid/unpaid leave?
Visit our info sheet on government family benefit payments.
4. Check your employer's policies
Maternity leave offered by various employers vary widely, with some being much more generous than others.
- How long do you need to have worked for your employer before they will offer you the option of taking maternity leave?
- Does your employer offer maternity leave entitlements beyond the minimum required by federal and state legislation?
- Is leave paid or unpaid and over what period of time?
- How will your job be handled while you are gone - for example, will they employ a temporary person who will work in your position while you are on leave, or will your tasks be shared amongst other colleages?
- How much notice are your required to give before you start leave?
- Will you return to the same position or is there an option to alter this (e.g. move from full time to part time)
5. Check your own contract
Details in your personal contract with your employer will further determine what your entitlements are in your own situation.
- Is there allowance for maternity leave specifically referred to in your contract?
- What other types of leave are you entitled to, for example you may wish to combine unpaid maternity leave with paid annual leave
6. Allow for the unexpected and changes in circumstance
Even the best plans can be affected by circumstances either within or beyond your control.
- Consider what may happen if unexpected circumstances should strike, for example what would you do if your partner lost their job while you were on maternity leave?
- Look into life and disability insurance for both you and your partner
- Allow for your own emotions and expectations to change drastically after the baby is born - you may be convinced you are happy to leave your baby in daycare at a young age and return to work, but may feel differently once he or she arrives
Research and complete this Maternity Leave checklist early on to ensure that you are as financially prepared as possible.
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