Senseless rule that denied woman paid maternity leave

A senseless piece of red-tape has meant a Gold Coast mum has been denied 14 weeks of paid maternity leave. The ruling comes after a three-year legal battle with Gold Coast Health.

Under government policy, staff are given maternity cover only after they have been employed for a year. Christina Thomas worked at Robina Hospital for almost 50 weeks before she gave birth, so has been denied the payment.

The Court of Appeal this week ruled Gold Coast Health was not obliged to pay Ms Thomas maternity leave, ending a three-year legal battle.

Justice Glenn Martin declared Ms Thomas was not eligible for paid maternity leave before giving birth because she had not been working at the hospital for a year.

Christina Thomas was denied maternity leave becuase she had not been working at Robina Hospital for a year when she was due to give birth.
Christina Thomas was denied maternity leave becuase she had not been working at Robina Hospital for a year when she was due to give birth.

Ms Thomas gave birth on February 11, 2016 but was not due until February 15, 2016.

At that stage she had not worked at the hospital for 12 months.

The anniversary of her starting work was February 23, 2016.

"She did not achieve 12 months continuous service until 23 February, 2016," Justice Martin said.

"Of course, by that time, she was no longer pregnant and, therefore, no longer entitled to commence paid maternity leave."

He said "any paid maternity leave had to commence before the expected date of birth".

Justice Martin's decision overturns a court ruling in November last year which ordered Gold Coast Health to pay for Ms Thomas' maternity leave. Gold Coast Health contested that decision.

Ms Thomas had argued it was not stated in the maternity leave policy that the leave must start from the date of the child's birth.

Ms Thomas argued she should have been eligible for maternity leave. Picture: uStock
Ms Thomas argued she should have been eligible for maternity leave. Picture: uStock

Instead the policy states workers can take maternity leave from six weeks before their due date.

Court documents show Ms Thomas had taken recreation leave before giving birth and did not officially start maternity leave until March 1.

A Gold Coast Health spokeswoman said the decision was still being considered.

"Paid maternity leave entitlements are determined by whole-of-government policies and

entitlements and we don't believe there have been any changes since 2016," she said.

"It is a requirement that a staff member have 12 months service to be eligible to paid

maternity leave."

Under the hospital policy Ms Thomas was eligible for unpaid maternity leave.



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