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QLD Employee Going on Maternity Leave - Can I Employ Another Person?

Discussion in 'Employment Law Forum' started by KarenN, 20 August 2016.

  1. KarenN

    KarenN Member

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    Good morning,

    I am a small business employer and have two casual receptionists that work for me. Our opening hours are 72 hour per week, covered by myself and the two girls. Now that the 3rd receptionist left to gain full-time employment.

    One of the girls in particular that has been with me for just over 14 months and has continuously taken time off for holidays and illness since employment and is now pregnant and suffering from morning sickness resulting in further time off. This is particularly difficult as I don't have a pool of staff to be able to cover the shifts with virtually no notice.

    We have a management right business that offers both short-term and permanent letting, so we are either checking in guests or arranging tenant inspections. The latter requires our staff to be qualified to be able to do this.

    We had paid for this particular staff member to gain her qualifications and licence to conduct property inspections but due to her continuing absenteeism, I no longer have anyone other than myself which is causing significant issues, particularly if I am already working at reception.

    She has advised me that she intends to take maternity leave but doesn't know how long for at this stage as it will depend on her finances. Right now I need to employ another person to cover the spread of hours, but to do that and ensure everyone gets equal shifts means that the other receptionist would also be cut back on hours which doesn't seem right.

    My question is - can I employ another person and split the hours equally between the receptionist in question and a new employee?

    On average it costs $6000 - $8000 to train a new person plus REIQ training and certification so it is a big outlay for us given that the banks are also placing us under financial pressure with the downturn. Then if she does happen to return, do I have to again review the hours so that they are spread evenly?

    Apologies for such a lengthy post.
     
  2. Matthew Lynch

    Matthew Lynch Lawyer

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    Hi Karen N

    The proper course would be to advertise for a maternity leave position and make it explicitly clear that the employee accepting the maternity leave position is aware that it is a fixed term that will end at the conclusion of your other employee's maternity leave. Then the temporary employee's contract will automatically terminate at the time the employee on maternity returns.

    If the employee on maternity leave does not want her position back after her 12 months unpaid maternity leave ends and says she is resigning then you could offer the temporary employee the position that was held by the pregnant employee.
     
  3. KarenN

    KarenN Member

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    Thanks for your reply. I am still left wondering though what my options are in terms of employing another person prior to her taking maternity leave and splitting her existing hours between a new employee and the existing one as I can no longer continue working 11.5 hrs days myself. I also can't expect my other employee to also work 11.5 hr days either.

    I want to create a new casual position now and keep the new casual staff member on even after maternity leave ends but this will mean reducing the existing staff members hours to accommodate the two positions. Is this possible without breaching any Fairwork regulations?

    Many thanks
     

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