Sunday, April 4, 2010

From here to paternity (leave)

Working as a casual has it's advantages – for example, I can have time off (without giving much notice at all) when I get a freelance client. It does have its disadvantages too though, and at the moment they're being felt in the lack of maternity leave way.

Whilst casual employees are entitled to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave (It's called parental leave since either mother or father can take it if they are to be the primary care giver) its only if they have “completed 12 months continuous service” with their employer – and that, unfortunately, is not me. I was feeling like a bit of a change in direction so handed in my resume to be the 'Makeup Consultant' at a pharmacy. I was interviewed on the spot (glad I wore a nice outfit!) and offered the job right then, pending a police clearance. Excellent! So I gave three weeks notice at the place I was working in and thought everything was perfect. The day before I was due to start at the pharmacy, I found out I was pregnant.

Legally I had no obligation to tell my new employer I was pregnant, especially since it was before the 12 week “She'll be right” stage. But I decided to tell them anyway, basically out of a sense of overwhelming guilt. They were shocked to say the least and suggested we all just play it by ear and see what happened. Phew.

So after six months in the job I've now left. Although they have asked me to come back after Tricky is born, I don't have a legal leg to stand on if they change their mind. I've even trained up my replacement, and there isn't enough work for two of us. But I suppose I'll waddle over that bridge when I come to it. For now I'm enjoying the extra time to nest and put my (swollen) feet up.

But what about Hubby? And all the other partners out there? What are they entitled to? Bugger all is what. It is up to the individual company to decide what leave entitlements the non-primary care giver is eligible for. It was a topic of hot debate at antenatal classes the other day with all the couples comparing. It was awful to hear the stories of the men in the group (our class consists of all heterosexual couples with the woman being the primary care giver) having to fight for time off.

Hubby works for the government and gets two weeks paternity leave straight off, no questions asked. Luckily for us his boss (whose wife is expecting her third at the same time as we are expecting Tricky) is very flexible and encouraging him to do what he has done each time (and will do again this time). That is, to combine his paternity leave with carer's leave and a little bit of annual leave, which all up is a grand total of six weeks off work! Hooray!

This not only means that I will get some help in those difficult first few weeks, but it will also allow Tricky to bond with his dad, an opportunity not every bub gets. Especially, it turns out, for teachers. One of the men in our class is a teacher and is allowed a whole three days off. Three days?! THREE DAYS?! That is disgusting! Worse when you consider his wife has to have a scheduled caesarian section for health reasons – she will need three days just to get out of bed – then what?! She'll get a kiss goodbye while her husband goes off to work no doubt feeling guilty for leaving, and she can struggle through. They had tried to get the caesarian scheduled in for the beginning of the school holidays, but turns out you can't pick and choose quite that easily.

Did your partner have time off?  Did he/she have to fight for it?

1 comment:

  1. is he (the teacher) sure that's all he's entitled to? I'm sure he'd be entitled to leave without pay for longer than that. He should approach his union and find out.

    His wife is going to need him so therefore he may be considered the primary care giver for his child for the period of time where is wife is recovering from her c section, he might be able to wrangle more leave that way. BTW after a c-section they usually make you get up within 24 hours. Nasty. :)


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