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Two atypical types of maternity leave you need to brush up on to avoid ending up in the Labour Court!

by , 26 April 2013
In Australia, a worker at an aged care centre has just taken the company to court. The reason? The company re-allocated her afternoon shifts to other workers and told her she could only take night shifts when she returned to work. And that's not the only way to find yourself in the Labour Courts when it comes to maternity leave. With more and more women choosing to adopt instead of going for natural birth, many companies aren't sure how to handle this type of maternity leave. And what do you do if your pregnant employee has a miscarriage?

 
Imagine returning from maternity leave and being told that if you don't accept different shifts, this'll be taken as your resignation.
 
This just happened in Australia, where a company was fined over $30,000 in a maternity leave discrimination case, says SmartCompany.
 
And this wasn't just a one-off case.
 
In the US, many cases are coming to light where employees have stayed away from work for longer than the three months they're allocated – that's why Workforce.com says 'out of all other industrialised nations in the world, the United States has the least generous maternity leave policies'.
 
Locally, pregnant employees are entitled to a whole extra month of maternity leave under the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, making it four months, regardless of her length of service.
 
You may already know that, but it's still easy to get into trouble for not allowing your employees the full amount of maternity leave they're entitled to.
 
For example – what if your employee has a miscarriage or stillbirth?
 
Here's what to do if your pregnant employee has a miscarriage or stillbirth…
 
Even if your employee has a miscarriage in her third trimester of pregnancy, or bears a stillborn child, she's still entitled to six weeks' maternity leave after the stillbirth.
 
This counts whether or not she's started her maternity leave at the time of the miscarriage or stillbirth.
 
Just remember that maternity leave's unpaid. So while you have to grant four months' maternity leave, you don't have to pay the employee for this time off, says The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf.
 
But did you know you also need to grant maternity leave to any employee who adopts a child under the age of two?
 
Careful: Adoption comes with the same maternity leave benefits as if the employee had given birth naturally
 
It's true – an employee who adopts a baby is entitled to adoption leave and adoption benefits of four months from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), says The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf.
 
Make sure you know how to handle these two atypical forms of maternity leave so you're prepared!
 

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