Clause 17.1: adoption, maternity and parental leave

17.1.1 Maternity leave shall apply to an employee who is pregnant and, subject to this clause the employee shall be entitled to be granted maternity leave as follows:

(i) For a period up to 9 weeks prior to the expected date of birth; and

(ii) For a further period of up to 12 months after the actual date of birth.

(iii) An employee who has been granted maternity leave and whose child is stillborn may elect to take available sick leave instead of maternity leave.

17.1.2 Adoption leave shall apply to an employee adopting a child and who will be the primary care giver, the employee shall be granted adoption leave as follows:

(i) For a period of up to 12 months if the child has not commenced school at the date of the taking of custody; or

(ii) For such period, not exceeding 12 months on a full-time basis, as the Secretary may determine, if the child has commenced school at the date of the taking of custody.

(iii) An employee shall be entitled to special adoption leave (without pay) for up to 2 days to attend interviews or examinations for the purposes of adoption. Special adoption leave may be taken as a charge against recreation leave, extended leave or family and community service leave, or organised through hours averaging provisions if applicable.

17.1.3 Parental leave shall apply to male and female staff to look after his/her child or children where maternity or adoption leave does not apply. Parental leave applies for a period not exceeding 12 months. Parental leave may commence at the time of the birth of the child or other termination of the spouse’s or partner’s pregnancy or, in the case of adoption, from the date of taking custody of the child or children or at any time up to 2 years from that date.

17.1.4 An employee taking maternity or adoption leave is entitled to payment at the ordinary rate of pay for a period of 14 weeks, an employee entitled to parental leave is entitled to payment at the ordinary rate of pay for a period of up to 1 week, provided the employee:

(i) Applied for maternity, adoption or parental leave within the time and in the manner determined set out in paragraph 17.1.9 of this clause; and

(ii) Prior to the commencement of maternity, adoption or parental leave, completed not less than 40 weeks' continuous service.

(iii) Payment for the maternity, adoption or parental leave may be made as follows:

(a) in advance as a lump sum; or

(b) fortnightly as normal; or

(c) fortnightly at half pay; or

(d) a combination of full-pay and half pay.

17.1.5 Payment for maternity, adoption or parental leave is at the rate applicable when the leave is taken. An employee holding a full time position who is on part time leave without pay when they start leave is paid:

(i) at the full time rate if they began part time leave 40 weeks or less before starting maternity, adoption or parental leave;

(ii) at the part time rate if they began part time leave more than 40 weeks before starting maternity, adoption or parental leave and have not changed their part time work arrangements for the 40 weeks;

(iii) at the rate based on the average number of weekly hours worked during the 40 week period if they have been on part time leave for more than 40 weeks but have changed their part time work arrangements during that period.

17.1.6 An employee who commences a subsequent period of maternity or adoption leave for another child within 24 months of commencing an initial period of maternity or adoption leave will be paid:

(i) at the rate (full time or part time) they were paid before commencing the initial leave if they have not returned to work; or

(ii) at a rate based on the hours worked before the initial leave was taken, where the staff member has returned to work and reduced their hours during the 24 month period; or

(iii) at a rate based on the hours worked prior to the subsequent period of leave where the staff member has not reduced their hours.

17.1.7 Except as provided in paragraphs 17.1.4, 17.1.5 and 17.1.6 of this clause, maternity, adoption or parental leave shall be granted without pay.

17.1.8 Right to request

(i) An employee who has been granted maternity, adoption or parental leave in accordance with paragraphs 17.1.1, 17.1.2 or 17.1.3 may make a request to the Secretary to:

(a) extend the period of simultaneous unpaid leave use up to a maximum of eight weeks in cases where partners wish to take maternity/adoption leave and parental leave;

(b) extend the period of unpaid maternity, adoption or parental leave for a further continuous period of leave not exceeding 12 months;

(c) return from a period of full time maternity, adoption or parental leave on a part time basis until the child reaches school age (Note: returning to work from maternity, adoption or parental leave on a part time basis includes the option of returning to work on part time leave without pay);

to assist the employee in reconciling work and parental responsibilities.

(ii) The Secretary shall consider the request having regard to the employee’s circumstances and, provided the request is genuinely based on the employee’s parental responsibilities, may only refuse the request on reasonable grounds related to the effect on the workplace or the Secretary’s business. Such grounds might include cost, lack of adequate replacement staff, loss of efficiency and the impact on customer service.

17.1.9 Notification Requirements

(i) When the Secretary is made aware that an employee or their spouse is pregnant or adopting a child the Secretary must inform the employee of their entitlements and their obligations under the Award.

(ii) An employee who wishes to take maternity, adoption or parental leave must notify the Secretary in writing at least 8 weeks (or as soon as practicable) before the expected commencement of maternity, adoption or parental leave:

(a) that she/he intends to take maternity, adoption or parental leave, and

(b) the expected date of birth or the expected date of placement, and

(c) if she/he is likely to make a request under paragraph 17.1.8.

(iii) At least 4 weeks before an employee's expected date of commencing maternity, adoption or parental leave they must advise:

(a) the date on which the maternity, adoption or parental leave is intended to start, and

(b) the period of leave to be taken.

(iv) Employee’s request and the Secretary’s decision to be in writing.

The employee’s request and the Secretary’s decision made under 17.1.9(i) and 17.1.9(ii) must be recorded in writing.

(v) An employee intending to request to return from maternity, adoption or parental leave on a part time basis or seek an additional period of leave of up to 12 months must notify the Secretary in writing as soon as practicable and preferably before beginning maternity, adoption or parental leave. If the notification is not given before commencing such leave, it may be given at any time up to 4 weeks before the proposed return on a part time basis, or later if the Secretary agrees.

(vi) An employee on maternity leave is to notify the Secretary of the date on which she gave birth as soon as she can conveniently do so.

(vii) An employee must notify the Secretary as soon as practicable of any change in her intentions as a result of premature delivery or miscarriage.

(viii) An employee on maternity or adoption leave may change the period of leave or arrangement, once without the consent of the Secretary and any number of times with the consent of the Secretary. In each case she/he must give the Secretary at least 14 days notice of the change unless the Secretary decides otherwise.

17.1.10 An employee has the right to her/his former position if she/he has taken approved leave or part time work in accordance with paragraph 17.1.8, and she/he resumes duty immediately after the approved leave or work on a part time basis.

17.1.11 If the position occupied by the employee immediately prior to the taking of maternity, adoption or parental leave has ceased to exist, but there are other positions available that the employee is qualified for and is capable of performing, the employee shall be appointed to a position of the same grade and classification as the employee’s former position.

17.1.12 An employee who has returned to full time duty without exhausting their entitlement to 12 months unpaid maternity, adoption or parental leave is entitled to revert back to such leave. This may be done once only, and a minimum of 4 weeks notice (or less if acceptable to the Secretary) must be given.

17.1.13 An employee who is sick during her pregnancy may take available paid sick leave or accrued recreation or extended leave or sick leave without pay. An employee may apply for accrued recreation leave, extended leave or leave without pay before taking maternity leave. Any leave taken before maternity leave ceases at the end of the working day immediately preceding the day she starts her nominated period of maternity leave or on the working day immediately preceding the date of birth of the child, whichever is sooner.

17.1.14 An employee may elect to take available recreation leave or extended leave within the period of maternity, adoption or parental leave provided this does not extend the total period of such leave.

17.1.15 An employee may elect to take available recreation leave at half pay in conjunction with maternity, adoption or parental leave subject to:

(i) accrued recreation leave at the date leave commences is exhausted within the period of maternity, adoption or parental leave

(ii) the total period of maternity, adoption or parental leave, is not extended by the taking of recreation leave at half pay

(iii) when calculating other leave accruing during the period of recreation leave at half pay, the recreation leave at half pay shall be converted to the full time equivalent and treated as full pay leave for accrual of further recreation, extended and other leave at the full time rate.

17.1.16 If, for any reason, a pregnant employee is having difficulty in performing her normal duties or there is a risk to her health or to that of her unborn child the Secretary should, in consultation with the employee, take all reasonable measures to arrange for safer alternative duties. This may include but is not limited to greater flexibility in when and where duties are carried out, a temporary change in duties, retraining, multi-skilling, teleworking and job redesign.

17.1.17 If such adjustments cannot reasonably be made, the Secretary must grant the employee maternity leave, or any available sick leave, for as long as it is necessary to avoid exposure to that risk as certified by a medical practitioner, or until the child is born, whichever is the earlier.

17.1.18 Communication during maternity, adoption or parental leave

(i) Where an employee is on maternity, adoption or parental leave and a definite decision has been made to introduce significant change at the workplace, the Secretary shall take reasonable steps to:

(a) make information available in relation to any significant effect the change will have on the status or responsibility level of the position the employee held before commencing maternity, adoption or parental leave; and

(b) provide an opportunity for the employee to discuss any significant effect the change will have on the status or responsibility level of the position the employee held before commencing maternity, adoption or parental leave.

(ii) The employee shall take reasonable steps to inform the Secretary about any significant matter that will affect the employee’s decision regarding the duration of maternity, adoption or parental leave to be taken, whether the employee intends to return to work and whether the employee intends to request to return to work on a part time basis.

(iii) The employee shall also notify the Secretary of changes of address or other contact details which might affect the Secretary’s capacity to comply with subparagraph 17.1.18(i).

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