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Ask a specialist…My employee’s partner is pregnant. Can my employee take parental leave to help care for the baby?
This is a common scenario as working parents may both wish to take unpaid parental leave to care for their baby. The short answer is yes, your employee would be entitled to unpaid parental leave. How much parental leave they would be entitled to depends on the circumstances, including the contents of any parental leave policy you may have in place.
Under the Fair Work Act 2009, parents both wishing to take parental leave at the same time may take up to eight weeks of concurrent unpaid leave. This leave can start on the birth or placement of the child; earlier, if agreed with the employer; or later, but must be within 12 months of the birth or placement of the child.
Concurrent leave does not have to be taken all in one go. It can be taken in separate periods, each of which has to be at least two weeks long, unless the employer agrees for it to be taken in shorter periods.
Alternatively, if your employee and their partner want to take unpaid parental leave at different times, they can each take a separate period of up to 12 months unpaid parental leave, up to a combined maximum of 24 months. The leave must be taken in a single continuous period, meaning that the other parent starts their unpaid parental leave on the next working day after the first parent’s leave ends. When the leave commences depends on which of the parents is taking leave first.
If you have a general question that you would like answered by one of our specialists and included in an issue of The Bottom Line, please submit it to email@example.com.