Negotiating the length of parental leave with your employer

Negotiating the length of your parental leave is an important conversation to have with your manager. You also may be in a position where you want to shorten or extend it. The table below is taken from the Supporting Working Parents website (an Australian Government Initiative) and will help you prepare by understanding your obligations. More information can be found here.

Action Notice period
Telling your employer of your intention to take unpaid parental leave under the Fair Work Act. At least 10 weeks before you wish to commence unpaid parental leave (or as soon as practicable). This must be in writing and you must specify the intended start and end dates.
Confirming the start and end dates of your unpaid parental leave or advising your employer of any changes. At least four weeks before you start unpaid parental leave unless this is not practicable (e.g. the child is born prematurely). This must be in writing.
When can you stop working and start your unpaid parental leave? The leave may start up to six weeks before the expected birth of the child, but can start earlier if you and your employee agree. If you continue working during the six week period before the birth of the child, your employer may request that you provide certain medical evidence that states you are fit to work, and may require you to take unpaid parental leave if you cannot provide that evidence.
Shortening your original period of unpaid leave (e.g. from 12 months to nine months). The original leave period can generally only be shortened by agreement with your employer.
Telling your employer that you are extending your initial period of unpaid parental leave (e.g. from nine months to 12 months). At least four weeks before your expected date of return. This must be in writing. This is a right under the Fair Work Act and cannot be refused by your employer.
Requesting an extension to unpaid parental leave beyond the initial 12 months (e.g. 12 months to 18 months). At least four weeks before the end of the initial 12-month unpaid parental leave period. This request must be in writing. Your employer must respond to this request within 21 days.

Further links:

Source: Supporting Working Parents – An Australian Government Initiative

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