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January 31, 2014

What are our obligations to a recently hired employee who becomes pregnant?

A recently hired employee is pregnant. This employee will only have worked with us for a few months before requiring maternity leave. What are our obligations to this employee?

An employee is not entitled to parental leave and the related rights contained in Division 5 of the Fair Work Act (including the right to her pre-leave job back) until they have 12 months of continuous service with you.

However, the employee is protected by State and Federal discrimination laws that operate to prohibit employers from discriminating against an employee because of pregnancy. This means that you have a responsibility to try to accommodate the employee’s needs arising from pregnancy and eventual parenthood.

In this situation, you may wish to negotiate with the employee to organise a suitable alternative to parental leave that might include her taking annual leave or a period of unpaid leave by agreement.

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