Pregnant employees

Using sick leave during pregnancy

Full-time and part-time employees can take paid personal leave if they can’t work because they’re sick or injured. This includes pregnancy related illness. There is also special maternity leave that employees can take in some circumstances.

Employees can also use personal leave to care for an immediate family or household member who’s sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency. For example, an employee can take carer’s leave if their pregnancy partner is sick or has an unexpected emergency.

There is also unpaid carers' leave for casual employees and for employee’s who have used all of their paid leave entitlements.

Employers can ask for evidence when an employee takes this type of leave. See Personal, carer's and compassionate leave for more information, including how personal leave accrues and how the leave is paid.

What if it's not safe for a pregnant employee to do her usual job?

If it's not safe for a pregnant employee to do her usual job, she has to be transferred to an appropriate 'safe' job. If transferred, she's entitled to the same entitlements, full rate of pay and ordinary hours as her usual job. The employer and employee can also agree to work different hours.

Pregnant employees are entitled to transfer to a safe job even if they haven’t worked for their employer for 12 months.

The employee has to give her employer evidence that she can work but can't do her usual job. The employer can require this to be a medical certificate.

What if there isn’t a safe job?

If the employer can’t transfer the employee to a safe job, the employee can take (or be required by her employer to take) paid ‘no safe job’ leave. The leave is only paid if the employee is entitled to take unpaid parental leave.

Employees who aren’t entitled to take parental leave (eg. if they haven’t worked for the business for 12 months) get unpaid no safe job leave.

During paid no safe job leave, the employee must be paid her base rate of pay for the ordinary hours she would have normally worked. Paid no safe job leave continues for the time in the medical certificate or until the pregnancy ends.

This leave doesn’t affect the unpaid parental leave the employee is entitled to.

Can an employee be demoted or fired because she’s pregnant?

It’s illegal to discriminate against an employee because they’re pregnant, or because of their sex or family or carer’s responsibilities. For example, an employer can’t demote or fire an employee because she is pregnant. See the Discrimination section for more information.

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Page last updated: 24 Aug 2012