How to access your paid parental leave entitlements can seem quite confusing. To make the process easy, we’ve simplified the steps for claiming Parental Leave Pay below. Our advice is to get as many of the steps as possible completed before having your baby. It will make the process so much easier for you.
So what do you need to know about paid parental leave?
- In Australia, eligible parents can access 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay following the birth or adoption of their baby.
- UPDATE: If your child’s birth or adoption is on or after 1 July 2020, you may still get up to 90 days to use within two years of the birth. However, your payment will include both:
- a continuous Paid Parental Leave period of up to 12 weeks which is 60 payable days, and
- 30 Flexible Paid Parental Leave days.
- To claim the 18 weeks in one continuous block, your 12-week Paid Parental Leave period will be connected to your 30 Flexible Paid Parental Leave days.
- As part of the Flexible Paid Parental Leave, you can also choose a shorter block of between 12 and 18 weeks and take the remaining flexible leave days when it suits you (before your child turns two).
- The fully-funded government Paid Parental Leave Scheme was introduced in 2011 to help working parents spend more time at home with a new baby in those vital early months. This was updated in July 2020 to give you more flexibility around how and when you can use it.
- Changes to how to apply for the Flexible Parental Leave Pay will kick in on 14 September 2020. From 14 September, you will be asked both of the following if you claim Parental Leave Pay:
- how you want to get your Flexible Paid Parental Leave days, and
- when you want to get your Flexible Paid Parental Leave days.
- If your child’s birth or adoption is before 1 July 2020, this change doesn’t impact you.
- The scheme provides eligible parents with up to 18 weeks’ wages at the National Minimum Wage. The amount is currently $753.90 per week before tax.
- This leave is different to any paid parental leave entitlements that you may receive through your employer as part of your employment contract.
- The government Paid Parental Leave Scheme is administered through Services Australia.
How do you receive the paid parental leave payment?
Parental Leave Pay can be paid to you either by your employer or directly from the government.
Generally, your employer will receive the payment from the government and then pay it to you in your usual pay cycle. This allows them to withhold your usual amount of tax and allow for any other payments or contributions that you regularly make (super, salary sacrifice, etc.).
If you have decided not to return to your employer or are not based in Australia, you can also choose to have the payment paid directly to you from the government.
So here is our step-by-step guide to applying:
- Step 1: Check your eligibility for paid parental leave.
- Step 2: Talk to your employer.
- Step 3: Decide on your dates.
- Step 4: Create a myGov account. Make sure you have a Customer Reference Number (CRN).
- Step 5: Sign in to myGov to link to your Centrelink online account.
- Step 6: Submit your claim online.
- Step 7: Provide proof of birth.
- Step 8: If accepted, manage your paid parental leave payments.
Step 1: Check your eligibility for Paid Parental Leave
You must be:
- the birth mother of a newborn child
- the adopting parent of a child, or
- another person caring for the child under exceptional circumstances
You may still be eligible if the eligible individual above receives the payment and they transfer the payment to you. Additionally, you will also need to:
- meet the work test for Parental Leave Pay
- meet residency requirements from the date the child comes into your care until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period
- have received an individual adjusted taxable income of $150,000 or less in the financial year either before the date of birth or adoption or the date you claim, whichever is earlier, and
- be on leave or not working from when you become the child’s primary carer until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period
Step 2: Talk to your employer
You must tell your employer of your intention to take unpaid parental leave under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). You need to do this at least 10 weeks before you would like the unpaid parental leave to commence. This must be in writing and outline the start and end dates for the leave, and this must be confirmed to the employer again at least four weeks before the leave commences.
Step 3: Decide on your dates
You need to decide on when you would like your Paid Parental Leave to start. This is not the date your payment will start, it’s the start of your entitlement period. It is important to note that this can only begin from the day your child is born or adopted, or a later date — it can’t start before the birth or adoption of your child – and if your Paid Parental Leave payments have commenced, you cannot alter the start date retrospectively. Additionally, the latest you can apply for Paid Parental Leave and receive the full 18 weeks is within 34 weeks of the birth or adoption of your child.
If you would like it to begin from the date of birth, then you need to provide proof of your child’s birth or adoption within 28 days. If you submit your claim or provide proof of your child’s birth or adoption more than 28 days after your child’s birth or adoption, the earliest your payment can start is the date you submitted this documentation.
You must submit your Paid Parental Leave claim before you return to work. We know of one situation where someone claimed late into their leave and decided to return early, so ended up losing 50% of their Paid Parental Leave pay.
Step 4: Create a myGov account and make sure you have a CRN (Customer Reference Number)
You can start your claim as early as three months before your child is born or adopted. You should claim early and you need to claim the payment online using your Centrelink online account through myGov. If you are new to this, then it will sound VERY confusing to begin with. The thing you need to know is that you need a myGov account to manage everything baby-related moving forward. This will be the most time-consuming part, but keep at it and do it early. If you don’t have a CRN, then you will need to apply for one of these also and you can do that through the myGov account. Once your child is born, you will then receive a CRN for your child, and any subsequent children, also.
Link to watch a video tutorial on how to set up myGov account here.
To manage everything online, you need a myGov account and a Centrelink online account.
Step 5: Sign in to myGov to link to your Centrelink online account
Once you have created your myGov account, you can link it to your Centrelink online account. Watch the video and read more on how to link your online account to myGov here.
Step 6: Submit your claim online
You’ll need the following information to complete your claim:
- your Centrelink CRN, if you have one
- your bank account details — you must be named on the account
- your Tax File Number
- if you were not born in Australia, the date you first arrived
- details of periods when you have lived outside Australia
- information about your Australian residency, e.g. citizenship papers, passport or other documentation
- work test information
- your income details for the financial year either before the date of your claim or your child’s date of birth or adoption, whichever is earlier
- details of your work over the last 13 months, including hours worked and unpaid leave taken
- your employer’s Australian Business Number and payroll contact details, and
- the date you would like your Paid Parental Leave period to start
Step 7: Provide proof of birth
After the birth of your baby, you must submit the proof of birth or proof of adoption to complete your claim for a payment. Your hospital will give you a birth registration form after the birth of your baby. We suggest that you start this process prior and do as much as possible beforehand.
To apply for a birth certificate, you will need to follow the process in your state or territory.
Step 8: Manage your paid parental leave payments
Once you are all set-up and approved to receive paid parental leave, download the ‘Express Plus Centrelink’ app from the app store. Download the app here.
Once you are registered, it provides an easy way for you to track your paid parental leave payments. It’s also useful to keep all your CRNs and family details in one place. The same app is also used to track your Child Care Subsidy.
Written by the Circle In team. Our friends at Law Squared have reviewed this document to ensure it says the right things. It does not constitute legal advice however, and we recommend you seek specific advice tailored to your circumstances.