Tanya began her career in Employment Relations following the completion of a Human Resources and Industrial Relations degree from Curtin...
Over recent years, there have been a number of regulatory changes that have shaped parental leave in Australia. These include the introduction of the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, followed by subsequent amendments to parental leave legislation and introduction of the Paid Parental Leave Scheme.
Below is Employsure’s guide on what to expect when your employees are expecting.
Who is eligible for unpaid parental leave?
Parental leave is for an employee or their spouse or partner, who gives birth or adopts a child under 16 and have responsibility for the child’s care. Employees are entitled to this type of leave once they have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with the employer immediately prior to the expected date of birth, or in the case of adoption, the expected date of placement of the child.
Casuals are not entitled to unpaid parental leave unless they have served at least 12 months of continuous service on a regular and systematic basis.
What is the entitlement?
Most employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave, and can request a further 12 months under the same conditions. Parents who are married or in a de facto relationship can take up to eight weeks unpaid parental leave at the same time – this is called ‘concurrent leave.’ Both parents can take a separate period of up to 12 months unpaid parental leave however, the combined leave cannot be more than 24 months.
Notice and evidence.
As the employer, you need to receive written notice of intention to take this type of leave at least 10 weeks in advance. The written notice must inform you of the intended start and finish date and confirm this at least four weeks before. You may ask the employee for a medical certificate to support the leave.
Extending parental leave.
At least four weeks before the end of the first 12 months, an employee may ask to extend the leave for a further 12 months, which again must be in writing. You need to respond in writing within 21 days and can only refuse on reasonable business grounds.
Return to work guarantee.
After taking parental leave, the employee is entitled to return to the role they had before the leave or, if not available, a role similar in status and pay. You need to consult with the employee about any possible changes to working conditions that could affect them.
Employers who adopt best parental leave practice and policies can play a critical role in supporting and valuing staff who are considering or expecting a child or who are returning to work from parental leave. These practices can have a significant impact on the retention rate of employees, particularly those returning from parental leave, while reducing recruitment and training costs, and improving staff morale and productivity.
Contact Employsure today on 1300 651 415 to learn more about parental leave entitlements and the ideal policies to adopt.