Your Pregnancy Week 15: Planning Maternity Leave

It is of course entirely up to you but now that you are past that twelve week marker it is probably okay to tell everyone at work that you are preggers…plus in a few more weeks you will be showing and then the cat will really be out of the bag.  And once your bosses know that you are pregnant they will want to know your plans for maternity leave…your baby holiday!

I would say that Australia has middle of the road maternity leave.  I feel very fortunate because the maternity leave here is far better than what is offered in the States.  But at the same time it is not on par with some European countries.  Anyway, at the very least the federal government provides eighteen weeks of paid maternity leave…you get paid at minimum wage and then that amount gets taxed so it works out to be about $1,000.00 a fortnight.  And what your workplace provides depends entirely on what sort of job you have.  If you are self employed you probably don’t get any paid leave…if you work for the government the standard seems to be fourteen weeks of paid leave.  So say you get six weeks of paid leave from your job and then the eighteen weeks of paid leave from the government…that gives you six months of paid maternity leave.  Then there is unpaid leave.  How much unpaid leave you can take depends on your finances and how long your workplace will hold your job for you.  If you cobble together your six months of paid leave with some annual leave and some unpaid leave you might be able to stretch your baby holiday into more like seven or eight months.  Using the equation of fourteen weeks of paid leave from work, plus eighteen weeks of paid leave from the government, plus two weeks of annual leave and some unpaid leave I took exactly nine months off.  

So now the question is when to take your maternity leave.  Again, I think this depends on what kind of job you have.  If you have a desk job you could probably manage to work a bit longer than
if you have a more physically demanding job.  I have a fairly physical job and my OB recommended that I stop work at 34 weeks but I honestly couldn’t imagine sitting at home for SIX weeks before the baby came.  I don’t think I have had six weeks of holidays since my school vacation days and I wasn’t about to use up six weeks of my maternity leave to sit on the couch and wait for labor to start…and towards the end this is all you are capable of doing.  I was also convinced that Baby C was going to come late.  Anyway, I worked until the end of 36 weeks.  And it worked out pretty much perfectly.  I had a week to do things like get my hair cut, go to the dentist, do last minute baby things and meet friends for coffees.  And then I had a week to lie on the couch.  And then Baby C came…a few days early.

I should also mention that I took a week off work when I was about 27 weeks pregnant to do some hard core nesting…I got the nursery ready and I cleaned the house from top to bottom…so I knew that when my maternity leave started I didn’t have much to do in terms of getting ready for the baby.  Taking a week off a before my official baby holiday started really suited me.  First it suited my personality…I just like knowing that everything is done…cross “get ready for the baby” off the list!  Plus it suited my physical state…those last few weeks I was honestly just so huge that there wasn’t much I could do besides sit on the couch…so it was good that all the crib assembly and car seat installing were done when I was a bit smaller and more mobile.  So keep in mind that taking a pre-maternity leave holiday is an option too!

Anyway, sit down with a calendar, have a look at your bank account and figure out what will work for you time wise and financially.  And you can always change your plans!  Babies do come early so your leave might start before you planned!  Or you might win the lottery and never have to go back to work!  Why hasn’t this happened to me yet?

And while we are on the subject, have your partner check out his workplace offers in terms of paternity leave!
And this post has information about how to apply to Centrelink for your paid maternity leave.