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Returning to work after having a baby

Juggling work, kids and money

Page reading time: 3 minutes

Balancing financial and work commitments with caring for children is possible with a little planning.

Set clear expectations at work

Before you return to work, talk to your employer. Discuss how you'll manage your new family responsibilities and work commitments.

Ask for flexible work arrangements

If you've been with the same employer for at least 12 months, ask about flexible work arrangements. These could include working part-time instead of full-time or job sharing. You could ask to change your start or finish times, or work from home.

For information about returning to work from parental leave, see the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

For information about your rights when returning to work from leave, see the Human Rights Commission website.

Taking time off when your child is sick

You can get sick leave and carer's leave – also known as personal leave. It lets you take time off to help deal with personal illness, caring responsibilities and family emergencies.

All employees, including casual employees, are entitled to two days of unpaid carer’s leave.

Full-time and part-time employees can only get unpaid carer’s leave if they don’t have any paid sick or carer’s leave left.

For more information, see sick and carer's leave on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Get help if you have problems returning to work

You can get free legal advice about work-related issues from community legal centres. There are also Legal Aid agencies and other types of legal services in each state and territory.

If you live in Queensland, South Australia or the Northern Territory, you can contact a Working Women's Centre. These centres provide free and confidential help with work-related issues for women.

Weigh up child care costs

You'll need to weigh up the costs of child care against how much you and your partner are earning. Also factor in any government assistance you're eligible for.

Choosing child care depends on how much care you need and your budget. You may have family or friends who can help. Or you may have to pay for full-day child care, or a nanny.

If you have a child at school, you'll need to consider how you'll manage school pick-ups and drop-offs. You could share this with other parents or family members. Or you could pay for before-school care or after-school care, or both.

For information on child care options, see the Raising Children Network website. 

Get help from the government

The government has subsidies that can help cover the cost of child care. See assistance with child care fees on the Services Australia website.

They also have a range of payments and services to help with your child's education and health care. See payments for families.

Budget for child-related costs

When you return to work and have an idea of your new income, do a budget. Include the extra expenses of having a child to get a realistic picture.

Plan for the future

Now you have a family, you'll need to think about how you're going to financially manage each major life stage ahead.

Save for education and expenses

It's never too soon to start putting aside money for education and other expenses involved in raising children.

For saving ideas and tips, see saving.

Check your super

Taking time out from work to care for children affects your income. This in turn affects the amount of super you're accumulating.

It's worth looking into your super fund to see if you're on track for retirement. If not, you might need to make more super contributions.

Also check if your super fund has insurance options that suit your needs. For example, life insurance and income protection insurance.