Understanding your rights and responsibilities
It’s against the law for your workplace to treat you less favourably because of your family responsibilities. Learn more about your rights when returning to work.
Types of leave and employment
If you’ve been on unpaid parental leave, you have a right to return to the job you had before going on leave, even if someone is working in that job as a replacement.
In the case of maternity leave, if there were changes made to your job because of your pregnancy before you went on leave, you have the right to return to the job you had before the change. This includes if:
- your hours were reduced while you were pregnant
- your job or work duties changed where your normal job was not safe for you to do while pregnant.
If you’re on a fixed term contract, your employer doesn’t have to extend the fixed term because you’ve taken leave.
If your fixed term ends while you’re on parental leave, you may not be able to return to that job.
If your job has changed or no longer exists, your employer needs to offer you a job that’s similar in pay and status. If this isn’t possible, you may be entitled to a redundancy. Learn more about your rights if you lose your job.
If you're getting unpaid parental leave
You can return to work early if your employer agrees to the new date. Otherwise, you will have to return to work on the original planned date.
Your workplace can ask you to return to work early if you no longer have carer responsibility for the child.
Different rules apply if there has been a stillbirth or infant death.
Find out more about going back to work early at the Fair Work Ombudsman.
If you're still breastfeeding
You have a legal right to breastfeed or express and store breast milk at work. It may be discrimination if your work doesn’t provide suitable facilities for you to do this.
If you have a workplace dispute
If you have an issue at work that you cannot resolve directly with your employer upon return, you can find information and support at:
- your union, if you’re a union member
- the Fair Work Commission – for help resolving workplace disputes through mediation, conciliation or arbitration
- LawAccess NSW on 1300 888 529 – a free government telephone service that provides legal information on topics including job-related issues
- the Anti-Discrimination Board – if you think you've been discriminated against either while pregnant or after having a baby.
Find help resolving workplace issues at the Fair Work Ombudsman.