Nourish Baby

Nourish BabyCan You Take Time Off Work for Antenatal Classes?

Pregnancy is an exciting and rewarding experience, but there are thousands of decisions to make and things to take care of along the way. That means pregnancy can be an incredibly busy time, and attending antenatal classes and appointments can fall by the wayside. Even more challenging, most antenatal appointments are booked for weekdays when you and your partner are busy with work. This leaves lots of people wondering whether they can take time off work to attend antenatal classes.

Pregnancy Leave Entitlements in Australia

Pregnancy leave entitlements differ throughout Australia. Your exact entitlements will depend on the industry you’re in, how long you have been in the role and any local or state legislation that applies. Regardless of your exact entitlements, all employees in Australia are protected by the Sex Discimination Act 1984 and Fair Work Act 2009.

These two pieces of legislation lay out laws that prevent employers from discriminating against you due to pregnancy. That means your normal leave entitlements can’t be modified or reduced while you are pregnant. In most cases you will retain all your normal leave entitlements as set out in your agreement and industry award, including:

  • Sick leave
  • Annual leave
  • Parental leave
  • Unpaid leave
  • Compassionate leave

Taking Time Off Work for Antenatal Classes

You will typically be allowed to use your normal sick leave to attend antenatal appointments. Ultrasounds, consultations with your midwife, GP appointments and antenatal classes all fall under this umbrella. So, in most cases, full-time employees in Australia will be able to use their sick leave to attend in-person antenatal classes.

Not all industries, awards, workplace agreements and company policies allow pregnant mothers to use their sick leave to attend appointments. Before you begin requesting time off to attend classes, you’ll need to speak to your human resources department to find out the details of your employment conditions. If you have used all your sick days and need to take time off for an illness or to attend an appointment, you will still be able to request unpaid leave.

Can My Partner Use Sick Leave to Attend Antenatal Classes?

While partners are granted some parental leave allowances by the Government, they typically can’t use sick leave to attend antenatal classes and appointments. Antenatal appointments are a major part of the pregnancy journey, and attending classes is your chance to ask questions and check in with medical professionals. For that reason, partners are strongly encouraged to attend appointments whenever possible. In most cases your partner will need to use their annual leave or unpaid leave entitlements to take time off for appointments.

Ask your partner to speak to their employer about their leave entitlements and how they should handle any absences for antenatal classes.

Discussing Your Leave Requirements with Your Employer

There are so many things to think about when you’re pregnant. One of the most important is having a discussion with your employer about your leave requirements and entitlements. It’s a good idea to set up a meeting with your immediate manager or a human resources manager to announce your pregnancy and talk about parental leave, sick leave and antenatal appointments.

Remember, it’s illegal for your employer to discriminate against you due to pregnancy. Your employer will be required to ensure your work and workplace is safe for you during your pregnancy, but they otherwise won’t be allowed to reduce your hours, alter your entitlements or give you less important work to complete.

Support Your Pregnancy with Online Antenatal Classes

While you will usually be able to use your sick leave days to attend antenatal classes, going to in-person classes can be a challenge. Not only do the classes book up quickly, finding a day where you and your partner can both take time off isn’t always easy.

Online antenatal classes offer all the same information without the hassle of needing to take time off work. Delivered through online portals that can be accessed at the times and places that suit you best, online antenatal classes contain the expert information you need to manage your pregnancy. Whether you’re too busy to attend the classes at your local clinic or you simply want access to information that you can review at any time, online antenatal classes are the most convenient option available. The best part is that the information is available whenever you want it. You’ll always have access to the material, so you can review it throughout pregnancy, labour, birth and into your baby’s early childhood.