Emily was one of those pregnant colleagues who was constantly sick. You know, the ones who suffer morning sickness from week six to the day they gave birth. “It was horrific and one of the worst periods of my life,” she tells us. “I was so excited about welcoming our second child into the world but I was so sick that it made the experience awful, and my work suffered.”
Emily’s case is extreme, but the reality is that all women face challenges at some point. Morning sickness, IVF and obstetrician appointments, scans, blood tests, and the list goes on.
So, what are you entitled to for appointments and illness?
Firstly, employees who are pregnant still get their ordinary sick leave entitlements. Regardless of whether your sickness is related to your pregnancy, you still use your sick leave and the usual sick leave conditions will still apply.
Some companies now offer leave to attend prenatal medical appointments. These policies allow you to use sick leave (or other leave) to attend prenatal medical appointments. Speak to your HR department or manager in your organisation to find out if your organisation provides entitlements like this that you can access.
If you do experience constant sickness and you have used all your sick leave, then you may be able to access unpaid leave. Again, we recommend speaking to your HR department.
There is also special maternity leave. This is unpaid leave a woman who is eligible for parental leave can take if unable to work because of a pregnancy-related illness or if pregnancy ends after 12 weeks because of a miscarriage, termination or stillbirth.
If an employee takes special maternity leave because of a pregnancy-related illness, the leave will end when the pregnancy or illness ends, whichever is earlier. If leave is taken because of a miscarriage, termination or stillbirth it can continue until they are fit for work.
To access special maternity leave, you need to give your employer notice as soon as possible (which may be a time after the leave has started.) The notice must state the expected period of the leave and an approximate length of time you think you’ll be away from work. The notice does not have to be in writing. Special maternity leave won’t reduce the amount of unpaid parental leave that an employee can take.
If you would like more detailed information, we recommend visiting the Fair Work Ombudsman website here.
Written by the team at Circle In