thread: Taking less hours... can she?

  1. #1
    BellyBelly Member

    Jun 2004

    Taking less hours... can she?

    I was speaking to a friend of mine at work who is 24 weeks and is starting to get verrrry tired (retail, on her feet ALL day)... She had thought/planned/assumed that because of this she could go from full time to part time and just take less hours when she wasn't feeling up to it, but now she's been told that she has to stay full time right up until she takes maternity leave, or otherwise they won't be able to offer her full time after her leave is up - she has to return as part time if she leaves at part time.
    I'd always thought of our work as being fairly lenient and fair, and this doesn't sound right at all.. They're basically forcing her to do full time work when she isn't up to it, and because of her financial situation she can't leave work early all together... so she's going to have to work way too hard for too long just because our stupid (multi million dollar corporate) company can't accomodate a pregnant woman. And she's such a quiet little thing that she's accepted it, and I'm really upset for her. She's potentially endangering her (and her bubs) health and they honestly don't care.
    Also now that I know of her situation I'm going to have to rethink my arrangements and either put off ttc a little longer or find a more caring employer!
    Does anyone know if she is entitled to more than this, or if there is anything I can do? I'd hate for her to have something happen to her because of these 'people'..

  2. #2
    belmarks Guest

    Hi Katey, I am pretty sure, in fact positive that what they are saying is right. If you change your employment status to part time, then that is all they are obliged to offer you when you come back. So therefore, if you are full time, then they HAVE to offer you your exact position when you come back. You can opt when you come back to change your status to part time, but again, if they cannot or do not have any part time work, then they can just say no, and you will be left looking for a part time job elsewhere.

    However, this employer of your friends, should be a little bit more empathetic to her situation, and possibly provide some alternatives to standing all day, or even let her leave early or whatever. If they push her around, then she could go to her doctor and go on 'stress leave' which they have to pay her for, but she doesn't have to go into work. I know that's horrible and would be a last resort, but hey, if they aren't giving her a fair go, then maybe she should push back in her own way!

    Hope this information helps a little.

    Good luck to your friend!

  3. #3
    Senior Moderator

    Nov 2004

    Get your friend to get in touch with her union. They at least will be able to tell her exactly what her AWA (Australian Workplace Agreement) provides for pregnant women. Most AWAs provide some sort of protection.

    She may be able to take other duties (reception, working on the changerooms or registers where she gets to sit down) and they can be made to provide a chair for her.

    If she has no success with the union, (they are usually pretty successful) then get in contact with a lawyer.

    Discrimination against pregnant women is rife. There are a number of recent cases in the Federal Magistrates' Court about discrimination against pregnant women. Your friend needs to stick up for herself.

    Current affairs programs are also good for getting the word out about "bad" employers.

    Let me know how you go (I'm a lawyer myself and interested in this area).


  4. #4
    BellyBelly Member

    Sep 2004
    South Burnett, QLD

    Hi Katey,

    Sounds pretty rough on your friend.

    Divvy's right re: AWA's (assuming the company has one?). It would certainly be worthwhile investigating. There should be a copy accessible to employees in the workplace. If there is no AWA however, most state/federal awards however don't outline specific entitlements in this regard.

    Having said that there is a legal requirement for employers to make 'reasonable adjustment' to accommodate a pregnant employee. This may include a reduction in hours where there is medical evidence that such long hours may be detrimental to the woman/her unborn child, or it could mean altering the employee's role slightly to enable her to sit for longer periods/avoid heavy lifting etc.

    This is a workplace health and safety issue as well as antidiscrimination.

    Interpretation of the antidiscrimination act (and what is 'reasonable') is really a matter for a tribunal/court to decide, but in general, if the changes the employee is requesting wouldn't be likely to cause the employer 'unjustifiable hardship' then it will most likely be considered reasonable. Sometimes putting a request in writing to an employer is more effective than an oral request.

    She should use phrases like 'I believe the proposed adjustment is reasonable in the circumstances and is unlikely to cause undue hardship to the company or disrupt the workplace, especially considering the potential harm that may result from my continuance in my role as it now stands'. Employers (especially the big ones) pick up on the key words and will often do a backflip when they're used!

    In NSW, the industrial relation act requires an employer to temporarily adjust an employee's hours of work if necessary to avoid a 'risk' or 'hazard' in the workplace. The act specifically says 'temporarily'.

    It's pretty complicated, but for the sake of her unborn child and her own health, I'd suggest (at the least) writing a letter of request to her employer, and if she is a member of a union make sure the employer sees that it is CC'd to the union! She could also contact the local 'Working Women's Service' if she's not a union member.

    This kind of thing really gets up my nose :evil: (if you can't tell from the epic post!). I have a passion for human rights, antidiscrimination and industrial relations law (though I'm a few years off becoming a practicing lawyer). I work in disability employment and I see so much crap from employers - similar issues arise to those faced by pregnant women.

    Hope that helps!



  5. #5
    nicoak Guest

    this is a quote from the announcemet at the top of the board...check it out with local govt

    If an employee takes parental leave they are entitled to:

    ~Return to the position held before the leave was taken; or for women who may have transferred to a different or part-time job because of their pregnancy, return to their earlier job;

  6. #6
    lozelijah Guest

    Depending on who it is she works for is there a human resources department that she could talk too? I worked for a franchise of a BIG company and had been with them for a very long time and it took them a while to settle into the fact that I was pregnant. I had intended on working full time up until I took maternity leave but being on my feet for so many hours a day I cut my hours i think when I was only about 5 months and then cut to 4 days a week at about 32 weeks before I finished up a few weeks later. With my company they had to accommodate our medical needs and it made more sense for them to do so as then I would be capable of working the hours that I was there rather then being exhausted and not being able to do anything. I forget the wording of the law now but If she changes to part time during pregnancy due to pregnancy then they still have to hold her previous pregnancy position open in this case her full time position.
    She could also contact wage line and they will let her know exactly where she stands with the company she works for, the number is in the white pages.
    The other option she gets her doctor to write a medical certificate stating she cant stand for longer then x amount of hours and they will need to accomodate her as much as possible being it he law or not no company wants the headlines to be 'Company refused to lower pregnant womens hours.'

    She needs to be firm with them and show them that she means business and isnt going to take their crap