Pregnant workers are entitled to move to a safe job if it isn’t safe for them to do their usual job.
And if a safe job cannot be found, the worker is then entitled to take either paid or unpaid “no safe job leave”.
What makes a job unsafe?
Medical experts agree that most people can continue working while pregnant, but not everyone.
The safety of your job depends on factors such as:
- what you do for a living;
- your health status; and
- any complications you may have with your pregnancy.
Your safety could be at risk if your employment involves:
- exposure to chemicals, radiation, in addition to other dangerous materials;
- long periods of standing or climbing;
- carrying or lifting heavy loads;
- loud noises or vibrations from heavy machinery; or
- extreme heat or cold.
Always speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your job and your safety during pregnancy.
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Pregnant workers entitled to a safe job or safe job leave
The Fair Work Act entitles all pregnant employees, including casuals, to move to a safe job if it isn’t safe for them to do their usual job because of pregnancy.
This includes workers who aren’t eligible for unpaid parental leave.
Workers who move to a safe job must still receive the same pay rate, hours of work and any other entitlements they received while performing their usual role.
If a pregnant worker cannot safely perform their usual job, they must provide evidence to their boss – for example, a medical certificate.
If there is no safe job available, the worker can take no safe job leave.
No safe job leave can be paid or unpaid.
Industrial advocate Miles Heffernan says workplace laws protect workers from pregnancy discrimination.
“A pregnant worker cannot be treated less favourably than a worker who is not pregnant,” he said.
“Employers must make reasonable adjustments to accommodate pregnant workers – for example, providing a safe job, with the same pay and conditions.
“Too often, bosses take adverse action against a worker because of their pregnancy status, including reducing their hours or even terminating their employment.”
Mr Heffernan advises anyone who has experienced discrimination based on pregnancy to seek urgent expert advice.
“Employers who unlawfully discriminate against pregnant employees can expect to face hefty compensation claims as a result,” he said.
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