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Key changes and updates to the National Regulations and Law are now in full swing. These include supporting Family Day Care to achieve better compliance and quality across the whole sector and an introduction of a national educator to child ratio of 1:15 for services providing education and care to school age children.

From the 01 Oct, a new National Regulation will be put in place that will give Educators the right to overrule parents requests for their child's sleep arrangements to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).  

As educators, we need to incorporate cultural celebrations within the setting in a sensitive and respectful manner by avoiding cultural tokenism - which is the act of making a small minimal effort towards something.

When working while pregnant, both parents are entitled to maternity and parental leave and this applies to all employees in Australia. It can be taken when you give birth, spouse/defacto partner gives birth or adopting a child under 16 years of age. 

Congratulations! You're pregnant! Until the little one arrives, some of you will choose to continue working and since you are pregnant there is a range of entitlements available to you. 

Sick Leave

Even though you are pregnant, you still get your ordinary sick leave entitlements. 

Pregnancy is not considered an illness or injury, however, if you experience a pregnancy-related illness or injury, sick leave can be taken.

Special Maternity Leave

If you are eligible for unpaid parental leave, you can take unpaid special maternity leave if:

  • you have a pregnancy-related illness or
  • your pregnancy ends after 12 weeks because of a miscarriage, termination or stillbirth.

If you take Special Maternity Leave because of a pregnancy-related illness, the leave will end when the pregnancy or illness ends, whichever is earlier. If you are taking leave due to a miscarriage, termination or still birth it can continue until you're fit for work.

Special maternity leave won’t reduce the amount of unpaid parental leave that you can take.

Notice and Medical Certificates

You will need to tell your employer as soon as possible (which can be after the leave has started) that you're taking special maternity leave. You will also need to inform them on how long you expect to be on leave.

Your employer can ask for evidence and can request a medical certificate.

Safe Jobs

Since you are pregnant, even as a casual, you are entitled to move to a safe job if it isn’t safe for you to do your usual job because of your pregnancy. Even if you aren’t eligible for unpaid parental leave.

When moving to a safe job, you will still get the same pay rate, hours of work and other entitlements that you got in your usual job. You and your employer can agree on different working hours. You will stay until it's safe to go back to her normal job, or until you give birth.

You will need to give your employer evidence that:

  • you can work but can’t do your normal job (including why your normal job isn't safe) and
  • how long you shouldn't work in your normal job.

Your employer can ask for this to be a medical certificate.

Note: 

CMV is a virus that can be contracted in a childcare centre and can be fatal while your pregnant.  It is usually transmitted through blood, urine, faeces and saliva. To protect you and your unborn baby you will probably need to minimise your exposure to changing nappies, toilet training, cleaning up body fluids etc. Even if you do have excellent hygiene practices you still are at risk of contacting it. 

When No Safe Job Is Available

If there is no safe job available then you can take no safe job leave. If you're entitled to unpaid parental leave, no safe job leave is paid.

When working as a full-time or part-time employee, no safe job leave is paid at the base rate of pay for ordinary hours of work.

For a casual, no safe job leave is paid at the base rate of pay (not including the casual loading) for the average number of hours you would have worked in the period you're on leave.

If you aren't entitled to unpaid parental leave can take unpaid no safe job leave.

Being Directed To Take Parental Leave

When pregnant and you want to work in the 6 weeks before your due date, your employer can ask for a medical certificate within 7 days that states:

  • you can continue to work
  • it’s safe for you to do your normal job.

If the certificate says that you're fit for work but it isn’t safe for you to continue in your normal job, then you will be entitled to a safe job or no safe job leave.

If you don’t provide a medical certificate or the certificate says you can’t continue work at all then your employer can direct you to start unpaid parental leave.

Your unpaid parental leave starts when you are directed to take unpaid parental leave and will count as part of your total unpaid parental leave entitlement.

If you have planned to take parental leave at a later date after the birth, the period of directed leave doesn’t have to be taken in a continuous period of the other parental leave.

For more information: Paid and Unpaid Maternity Leave Entitlements

Protection from Discrimination

You can’t be discriminated against because you're pregnant. This means that you can’t be fired, demoted or treated differently to other employees because you're pregnant. Here is an example of a woman being discriminated against becasue she is preganant. 

Melissa is a full-time employee and works in a clothing store. She tells her boss Peter that she is pregnant. 

A few weeks later her hours are reduced and she is told that she is now a part-time employee. When Melissa asks Peter about this he tells he is reducing her hours to help her with her pregnancy and that in his family the women always reduce their hours when they are pregnant. 

Even though Peter thinks he is helping Melissa this is still discrimination. He is treating her differently to his other employees because she is pregnant. 

Each state and territory has a local anti-discrimination body, which regulates and investigates breaches of state and territory anti-discrimination laws.  You will be able to find the contact details on Fair Work Australia. 

I hope this article provides you with useful information about your entitlements when working whilst pregnant. Take care of you and your little one and enjoy the journey into motherhood!

Reference: 

Fair Work Ombudsman - Pregnant Employee Entitlements

Under the National Quality Framework, it is a requirement to have Early Childhood Teachers (ECT’s) within a centre based service for preschool children and under. 

Workplace Bullying is something that each of us may have experienced at some point of time in our industry. It makes you feel incompetent, it's depressing and you feel worthless. No one should ever make you feel negative, especially at your work!  Workplace Bullying is a serious risk to the emotional wellbeing and health of educators and it needs to be prevented and dealt with if it does occur. It's unfortunate but it still exists in early childhood settings!

Parent / Educator meetings help build respectful and positive relationships and enable educators and parents to share information about the child. Meetings add to the casual, daily conversations that you have with families by providing more detailed information about children's achievements and allow time for deep conversation.

With Winter just around the corner, it's important to take precautions to stay healthy during the cold season. It's easy for some of us to fall sick with viral infections especially when it's so easy to catch amongst the children at work. Here are some strategies on how to overcome the winter season, while working. 

You have a new child starting in your room, their excited, their parents are happy and the family seems to be settling in well with the centre environment. The first day has come for the child to start, parents say goodbye and then the child starts - screaming, crying, pulling, begging their parent not to leave.  

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