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6 maternity leave questions to ask BEFORE you’re pregnant

Pregnant woman writing maternity leave in her work diaryIf you’re planning a pregnancy it also pays to starts planning your maternity leave.

Sometimes a few months could be the difference between whether or not you’re entitled to take leave – or whether you are eligible for a maternity leave payment. In these cases it is worth knowing exactly what you’re in for.

Here are six steps to working out where you stand when it comes to maternity leave entitlement in Australia.

Here are 6 maternity leave questions to ask BEFORE you’re pregnant

1. What are your personal circumstances and preferences?

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. What is 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. Are you entitled to any Government assistance?

  • 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 Parental Leave Pay in Australia? Are you entitled to this and over what time frame will this be paid?
  • Which ongoing government family 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)
  • How will the amounts of these benefits be affected if you are on paid/unpaid leave?

4. What is your employer’s maternity leave policy?

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 much notice are you required to give before you start leave?

5.  Are there any maternity leave clauses in your personal 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.  Have you made a back-up plan in case of unexpected 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 you may feel differently once he or she arrives (or vice versa).

Maternity leave questions you need to ask before you're pregnant

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24 Comments so far -
  • En says:

    Hello, my company (where I’ve been full time for 5+ years) doesn’t have any mat leave info or in my contract, and due to current climate I’ve recently gone from Full Time to Part Time. I will be speaking with the company to see if they will offer any payment in addition to Government payment. I wanted to know if my current part-time status affects the Government 18 week payment? Thanks!

    • Hi En,

      Thanks for reading and thanks for your question.

      Fortunately, the Government’s Parental Leave Pay is for full-time, part-time and casual workers. To meet the ‘work test’ you only need to show that you have worked for 10 out of the 13 months before your baby’s due date (with no more than 12 weeks between any two consecutive work days) and 330 hours within that time (that’s just a little over one day a week).

      I hope that helps! If you have further questions please do not hesitate to ask.

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  • Ton says:

    Hi I’m having a baby girl on the 6th of August and ive worked for my employer for 4 years they told me that they will pay up to 6 weeks maternity leave . Does that mean I can still get parental leave from centrelink (government) for the other 12 weeks? Sorry first time mum and have no clue how this all works.

    • Hi Ton!

      Congratulations on your pregnancy and thanks for your question.

      If you are receiving maternity leave pay from your employer you ARE still able to apply for the government’s Parental Leave Pay. You can receive the full 18 weeks of government Parental Leave Pay, even if your employer pays their own leave payment.

      Hope this helps. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

      Take care x

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  • Azra says:

    I am 20 weeks pregnant and working for the same employer since 2016, by this I met the work test. I am planning to take maternity leave from 14th March 2020 until 14th March 2021, ( My expected due date is 16th April 2020).
    Parental Pay is 18 weeks, during my maternity leave after claiming Parental Pay, can I claim any other support?

    • Hi Azra,

      Thanks for your question and congrats on your pregnancy.

      There are other payments that may be available to you, but it depends on your individual circumstances.

      You might be eligible for Family Tax Benefits (although this is a small payment, not an income replacement payment).

      If you’re a single parent or a family on a low income you could be eligible for Parenting Payment.

      We do have this article on Family Payments — it might be a good place to start: https://www.bubhub.com.au/guide-to-government-family-benefit-payments/

      But ultimately you’ll have to chat to Centrelink about what your individual circumstances are.

      Hope this helps. Feel free to come back if you have more questions.

      All the best

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  • Gaurang says:


    My wife is pregnant for 2.5 months and is due on 6-7th March. She currently works full time. However, we have just found that the company she works for is under financial duress and has gone in to voluntary administration. Now the directors of the business are being fired and the company might be sold to new party or can be liquidated.
    We are not sure how this will end up but my wife is very concerned and not sure if she will get an employment somewhere for 6-7 months… If she finishes after decemeber 7th then she meets the govt criteria. but what happens if the she loses her job before that. She will not be able to finish the required work test..
    Should this scenario be under special conditions? How do we go about it?

    • Hi Gaurang,

      Thanks for your question and congrats on your upcoming arrival.

      I’m sorry to hear that your family is having to deal with this right now. What terrible timing. However, I am afraid I do not have much advice for you at this time. As far as I know there are no special allowances for when this circumstance occurs.

      My suggestion is that you contact Centrelink for clarification.

      It will also help to know exactly what constitutes ‘work’ under the work test so that if the job does end up finishing early there may be other avenues you could consider:

      What counts as work
      A working day is either:

      a day when you have worked for at least 1 hour
      paid leave, such as sick leave, annual leave and paid maternity leave.
      We won’t count unpaid leave, including unpaid maternity leave.

      Apart from full time work, you could also do any of the following:

      be a part time, casual or seasonal worker
      be a contractor or self employed
      work in a family business
      have multiple employers
      have recently changed jobs or left a job
      have worked overseas.

      Hopefully the new owners keep the employees on, and you won’t have to worry about this. Fingers crossed.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help. Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  • Carolina says:


    I have worked for my company since August 2017. I had annual leave but not exceeding 8weeks. I am due on June 22,2019. Originally planned to take unpaid maternity leave on May 22,2019 but this month March 2019 I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I am planning to get a certificate from my doctor to take maternity leave last day being April 19,2019. Meaning there’s approx 9 week gap from there until my due date. Will I still be entitled for Parental Leave Pay from govt? Given that I applied for unpaid maternity leave until May 2019 months ago but because of my condition and I will get a certificate will I still be eligible even with 9 weeks gap?

    • Hi Carolina!

      Thanks for reading and congrats on your pregnancy!

      To answer your question, I am thinking that you’ve already met the work test. This is why: if you’re due on June 22 then your 13-month period runs from May 22 2019 to June 22 2019. You have to have worked for 10 months within that time frame. So if you start counting your 10-month period from May 22 2018 it would end on March 22 2019 (last week!).

      Please check this with Centrelink to be sure, of course!

      All the best. Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  • Bobby says:


    I am hoping you can help!
    This is very premature, I am currently employed as a full time employee for the same company for 2 years. I have recently been offered a new job at another company that Is a 2.5 year fixed term contract, my question is do I need to work at my new empoler for 12 months before being entitled to center link paid mat leave?
    What happeneds if my 2.5 year contract ends just before my Mat leave or during my Mat leave Am I still entitled to the 18 week payments?

    I am also a Nz citizen

    Thank you

    • Hi Bobby!

      Thanks for reading and thanks for your question. It’s not too early to start planning for things like this, it’s a lot of money to miss out on — definitely pays (literally) to be prepared!

      The quick answer is No – you don’t have to be at your new employer for 12 months to be eligible for the government’s Parental Leave Pay. The rule is that you must work for 10 months within the 13 months before your baby’s due date. It does not matter whether you work for one employer or 100, it only matters that you worked.

      However, you will not be entitled to maternity leave (this is the 12 months leave granted to employers and the right to return to the same job and pay) unless you’ve been there 12 months. This only matters if you intend to return to that job.

      If you have no intention of returning (or if the contract ends) you are still eligible for the government’s 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay. You do not need to be employed or intend to return to work to receive the payment. The government usually pays your employer, who then pass on the pay to you in your usual pay cycle. If you’re no longer employed or if the contract is due to end, the government may decide pay you directly.

      If you’re an Australia resident then you should meet the residency requirements. You do not have to be an Australian citizen.

      You might find this article helpful: https://www.bubhub.com.au/paid-parental-leave-pay-australia/

      All the best!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  • KM says:

    Hi just wondering i started a part time job traineeship to get a certificate 3! In november which has a contract of 2 years to complete i am due to have a baby in a weeks time. and have only just finished work.
    i work a contract of 25 per week if i have only had employeed for 8 months will i still be eligable for ppl? Because of income?
    if not what would i be entitled to?

    • HI KM. Thanks for reading and congrats on your pregnancy. Or perhaps I should be congratulating you on your new baby already?

      I’m afraid that you would need to be employed for 10 months to be eligible – it isn’t just the hours worked. Did you work anywhere else before your contract started? I ask this because ANY work counts — it doesn’t have to all be with the one employer. Please check all this with Centrelink – they might be able to help you figure out if you’d be eligible. I do know that you can have up to 8 weeks unpaid with those 10 months but I’m not sure if that counts in your case.

      If you’re not eligible you should be able to receive the Newborn Upfront Payment and Supplement. And also Family Tax Benefits (depending on your family income). There’s more details in this post: https://www.bubhub.com.au/guide-to-government-family-benefit-payments/

      I hope this helps somewhat. Sorry I didn’t have better news. Feel free to come back if you have further questions or clarifications. Take care x

  • YK says:

    Hi, just want to check, i have moved from one empmoyer to another with a 9 week gap, will i still be eligible if i fit the other criteria? I had to wait for my new contract to arrive so my finish date to new start date have 9 weeks gap…. a bit concerned.

    • Hi YK. Congrats on your pregnancy and thanks for your question. That 9-week gaps is a bit of a concern. They do only allow an 8-week gap but that is UNPAID leave. Were you paid out at the end of your last job – could you have been technically on annual leave for some of those 9 weeks? Did you do anything in those nine weeks? Do you have a small business or family business that you helped out in? And where did the nine-week fall within the 13 months?

      It might be those extra details that will mean all the difference when it comes to whether or not you’ll be eligible.

      Feel free to come back with more info! All the best x

  • Maya says:

    Hi everyone,
    I would like to know if I will be able to get Paid Parental pay. I have been on full time for the last 4 years, but my company went into volunteer administration today and I am with high risk pregnancy. I have medical certificate saying I have to perform light duties or best work from home. My due date is 14 April 2018 and today is 30 Jan 2018. I am unable to find a job but I have my own business. Is there any exemptions for high risk pregnancies? The doctors think I will give birth in 2-3 weeks so I am very worried I am not going to get anything and I have busted myself to get here.
    Thank you

    • Hi Maya! Thanks for your question and congrats on your pregnancy. Not ideal to be having to worry about this stuff now though! What a pain for you!

      First of all – I think you should be right. There are a few reasons I think so…

      Firstly you are eligible even if you have periods of time where you’re not working. In fact, you can have up to 8 weeks off and still be eligible (if you meet all the other criteria). If you have your baby in the next 2-3 weeks then you’ll be well short of that 8-week rule.

      Also you don’t have to work in the same job to be eligible for the Government payment. You just need to be working. Running a business counts as work.

      Plus – yes, there are exemptions for high risk pregnancies too – but the catch is that they require proof in the form of two letters – one from your doctor (which shouldn’t be an issue) and also one from your employer stating that had the pregnancy continued as normal you’d have worked for long enough to meet the Paid Parental Leave eligibility criteria (which is a problem for your as the company went into receiveship and would not be able to do this). Anyway – I don’t think you’d need to do this anyway for the two reasons above.

      Always double check this all with Centrelink though of course!

      All the best. Take care x

  • Pankie says:

    I have worked 13month without any break, however due to my circumstances i have taken 7weeks and 3days of leave before the expected due date.

    Am i still able to receive the maternity leave lay from the centrelink?

    • Hi Pankie,

      Congratulations on your pregnancy and thanks for your question. If you’ve met all the other criteria then your 7 weeks and 3 days of leave shouldn’t affect your eligibility for the Parental Leave Pay. The rule is that you can’t have more than 8 weeks of unpaid leave between two working days. So you have just made it 🙂

      Hope that helps. All the best x

  • candy says:

    Hi ,
    Just a quick question about Maternity leave entitlements in Australia
    You must have worked continuously for one employer for 12 months in full-time, part-time or in some cases casual employment. This 12 month period can include your pregnancy months as well ?

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