The facts about parental leave

The facts about parental leave

When we speak to women they want to know the facts about parental leave in simple terms. The same questions always come up; what am I entitled to and how do I access it?

There’s a lot to take in, but we’ve broken it down to try and keep it as simple as possible.

There are 2 great sites to visit for more detailed information:

What is the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme?
The scheme includes two payments:

  1. Parental Leave Pay: child’s primary carer may receive up to 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay
  2. Dad and Partner pay (including adopting parents and same-sex couples): may receive up to two weeks of Dad and Partner Pay

Both payments are taxable and paid at the rate of the National Minimum Wage.

What is Paid Parental Leave?
The government-funded Paid Parental Leave scheme was introduced on 1 January 2011 and is eligible for all employees in Australia.

Employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. They can also request an additional 12 months of leave. If eligible, you will receive Parental Leave Pay at the national minimum wage for up to 18 weeks.

In addition, an employee may also be entitled to additional paid parental leave by their employer. Employees need to check their Enterprise Agreement, contract or policy for details on this as it is specific to each organisation.

Who is eligible?
All employees in Australia are entitled to parental leave. Employees are able to take parental leave if they:

  • are the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child
  • have worked for their employer for at least 12 months
  • meet Australian residency requirements
  • have an individual adjusted taxable income of $150K a year or less
  • are on leave or not working from the time they become the child’s primary carer until the end of their Paid Parental Leave period, and
  • have met the work test (that is, have performed qualifying work during the work test period. Usually this test will be met if the employee has worked at least 330 hours in the 10 months before the birth.)

Casual workers, contractors and self-employed people are also eligible to receive Paid Parental Leave. In the event of a stillbirth or infant death, an employee may still be eligible for Parental Leave Pay.

Parental Leave Pay can be claimed through the Australian Government Department of Human Services. For more information visit the Department of Human Services.

Having another child
Employees who have taken parental leave don’t have to work for another 12 months before they can take another period of parental leave with that same employer. You must give at least four weeks written notice to your employer before the end date of your original leave period. Check out the template Request to extend parental leave.

If you have started work with a new employer then you will need to work with that employer for at least 12 months before you can take parental leave.

Useful links

Things you need to know

  • You don’t need to be married to be entitled to parental leave. You can be single or living in a de facto relationship.
  • You don’t need to be working full-time to be entitled to parental leave. Casual workers, contractors and self-employed people are also eligible to receive Paid Parental Leave
  • You can’t be forced to take parental leave and if medically able, can return days after the birth.
  • You must have worked for your employer for 12 months to be eligible for parental leave.
  • You can extend your leave for up to a further 12 months.
  • If you have already taken parental leave, you don’t have to work for another 12 months before taking parental leave again.
  • You cannot be dismissed or transferred to a different position just because you have taken parental leave.
  • If your organisation undergoes a restructure whilst you are on leave, then you should be included in any consultations that occur while you are on parental leave.
  • You can resign while on parental leave by giving the normal period of notice.

Remember that if at any time you need support, then we encourage you to reach out to your HR department.

Written by the team at Circle In

Sources:  Supporting Working Parents Employee Guide 2015 and Fair Work Ombudsman

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