Working during pregnancy
Many expectant parents will continue to work until late into their pregnancy. There are often several decisions to make around work during this time based on health, finances, family circumstances and professional needs. Supportive workplaces can help to make this transition a smooth process and there are also strategies you can do to assist in this transition.
Occasionally, there may be difficult circumstances or extra stresses associated with work when expecting. Some common concerns include:
- When to inform a manager and/or colleagues of the pregnancy
- Morning sickness and fatigue symptoms
- Heightened sensitivity
- Mental health concerns
- Job security
- General financial worries
- Workplace discrimination
- Parental leave payments
- Time off for medical appointments
- Partners accessing time off to attend pregnancy appointments
- When to finish work and start parental leave
- Flexibility with working from home (particularly since COVID-19)
- Flexibility with return to work dates and hours
- How to juggle work and family
If any of these concerns are causing significant stress, it is a good idea to discuss them with a trusted person and get professional advice or support. Some workplaces also provide free counselling through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
In addition, some types of work can cause discomfort, physical strain or other pregnancy risks. Again, it is important to discuss this with your GP or midwife.
It is useful to approach decisions about when to start parental leave with some flexibility as circumstances can change later in pregnancy. If finances allow, it might be enjoyable to plan sometime between finishing work and when the baby is due to be born.
It could also be useful to ask work colleagues how parental leave was managed by them and the organisation. It is also important to keep the lines of communication open with your manager when you are on leave and when planning for your return. Some expectant parents find that making a parental leave plan is advantageous. It might include how you see the next 12-24 months from a career perspective and could detail such things as: your requested leave date, expected return date, how you would like to keep in touch or be updated by your team/manager, and specific meetings/days you would like to be made aware of whilst on leave. It could also outline your handover plan. This simple tool can make the transition easier for both you and your employer.
There have been changes and additions to parental leave payments in recent years, so check the latest information on entitlements from government and employers. Australia’s Fair Work website and the federal government’s human rights website are both reliable sources of information.
The organisation, Parents and Carers at Work, can also provide information both for employers and employees.
Parents and Carers at Work