Can my employee return from maternity leave early?

Can my employee return from maternity leave early?

Dear Aunty B,

I run a shoe company so have a lot of female employees. One of our staff members went on unpaid maternity leave late last year. When she left she said she would be taking 12 months leave. While she was away, a replacement employee filled her role.

She’s now got in touch and said she wants to come back to work after six months. Is she allowed to do this? What do I do, I can’t afford to pay two people to do her job?

Kate,

WA

 

Dear Kate,

I have to admit some sympathy with your employee. Working for your shoe business sounds more relaxing than chasing a little tyke around the house for six months! Sadly for her the Fair Work Act doesn’t give employees a unilateral right to return to work earlier than originally agreed.

If she wants to come back from maternity leave six months early, this can only be done with your agreement. You should try talking to the staff member who is filling in her role about whether they want to stay for the full 12 months, taking into account your contract with them.

Be Smart,

Your Aunty B

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