Light duties when pregnant

Laurel asks: I’m pregnant but I haven’t told my boss yet. I’m a bit worried that she won’t be happy about it.

Congratulations Laurel! I can certainly appreciate that telling your boss you’re eventually going to need to take extended time off work is a stressful thing to have to face. And in truth it possibly does present her with a staffing challenge she’d rather not have to deal with.

But that’s neither here nor there, it’s illegal to discriminate against anyone (be they casual or permanent) on the grounds of pregnancy. If she sacks you or cuts your hours without your agreement she has acted unlawfully and face penalties.

It’s important though that you take a deep breath and let her know.

You don’t mention the type of work you do but if it involves things such as heavy lifting or exposure to chemicals you need to protect your health and that of your baby.

All pregnant employees including casuals are entitled to be moved to a safe job if your usual one poses risks to you.

An employee who changes to a safe job for the duration of her pregnancy must still be paid at the same rate and receive the same hours and any other entitlements she would’ve received for her normal positon. Your hours and roster can also be changed if you and your boss agree on different ones.

So speak to your doctor about what is best for your well-being – if he or she feels you can continue to work but not in your usual position then they should provide you with a certificate stating what you can and can’t do which you should show your employer.

Worst case scenario, if there isn’t any safe work available you can take “No safe job leave.” You should receive pay for this if you’re entitled to unpaid parental leave (unfortunately though if you’re not entitled to unpaid parental leave you wouldn’t get any wages for this time away).

Remember though in neither situation should you lose your job because you needed to be away.

Why don’t you give the Australian Unions team a call on 1300 486 466 so they can set your mind at rest about what your rights are – as well as what entitlements you might be eligible for.

Most important of all they can help you join a union so you have the peace of mind of knowing when you eventually return to work you have protection and representation just in case you have any problems.

Congratulations again and all the very best for the future.

Date Published: 27/10/2014 Category: Opinion Workers rights

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