Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Maternity Leave

Before you get all excited, no, I'm not up the duff.

But... Today I want to talk about maternity leave.

The way things where I work are set up now, people doing the same job fall under several different contracts, with different conditions for various things (rates of pay, shift times, loadings etc) in each one.  This is something that I believe the union is trying to fix, and that is another post for another day.  Today I want to talk about maternity leave.

I'm one of the lucky ones, the agreement I fall under currently pays 12 weeks of maternity leave.  This was put in place after a LOT of lobbying by the union.  The agreement a lot of others are under (who do the same job as me and may sit at the next desk) pays NO maternity leave.  (This is separate to the allowances the government pays that most people are eligible for, obviously).  I am unsure as to if this is something that is automatically in force, or it needs to be approved by the union.  I've asked the union and I'm waiting to hear back from them about it.

My work released a statement today saying they are changing our maternity leave entitlements.

As of the First of January 2013 they want to make everyone get the same.  They are paying 14 weeks maternity leave.  14 weeks instead of 12. Sounds great, doesn't it?  I thought so too, until I read the fine print.

This is how I understand it:  Under this new proposal, if I was pregnant, when I commenced maternity leave I would be paid a lump sum of 7 weeks wages.  When I went back to work after having the baby I would again be paid a lump sum of 7 weeks wages.

When I first read this, I thought 'Great, I'll just come back to work for a month or so and then leave again if I want to'.  Nope.  Reading further through the document I discovered that I would have to stay for at least 6 months, or repay the 7 weeks.

Sounds to me a bit like robbing Peter to pay Paul.  What if you decided not to come back after you had your baby?  What if you moved away in that year or so?  I see so many problems with this. 

I look forward to hearing back from the union as to if they can enforce this.  It was my understanding that these sort of conditions needed to be negotiated, not just changed whenever my employer felt like it.

It will be very interesting to see how it all turns out.

Does your employer pay maternity leave?  Are you in your union?  I'd love to know why/why not!
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