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6 maternity leave questions to ask BEFORE you’re pregnant

Maternity leave questions you need to ask before you're pregnantIf 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).

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12 comments so far -

  1. 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:

      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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Hi
    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

  5. 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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