Keeping In Touch Days.

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Keeping In Touch

What is the Purpose of Keeping in Touch Days?

Keeping in touch days give your employees on unpaid parental leave the chance to go back to work for a few days without losing their unpaid parental leave entitlement.

Keeping in touch days are a great way for employees to stay connected with the workplace. Whether it be to catch up with co-workers and employers, learn about new developments in the company, be given promotion opportunities, attend training sessions to learn new skills or keep skills current.

Most importantly, keeping in touch days make it easier for employees on parental leave to transition back into the workforce, especially after being away from a standard work routine for so long.

It is important to remember there are limits on when an employee can take a keeping in touch day and what kind of work they can do during a keeping in touch day. If an employee takes a keeping in touch day within a certain period of giving birth or does work that is not for the purposes of keeping in touch, the employee may be considered to have returned to work which may affect their unpaid or paid parental leave entitlement (Parental Leave Pay) if applicable.

How to Use Keeping in Touch Days

Under the Fair Work Act and the Paid Parental Leave Act an employee on unpaid parental leave has access to 10 keeping in touch days. If an employee wishes to extend their maternity leave beyond 52 weeks, they gain access to 10 additional keeping in touch days.

There are a number of ways an employee can use these days. They can go to work for a couple of hours (this still counts as 1 of the 10 available days), for a whole day, for a few days at a time, or use all 10 days in a row.

An employee can only start using their keeping in touch days at least 42 days after the birth or adoption of a child. If agreed upon by you and the employee, they can start keeping in touch with the workplace at least 14 days after the birth or adoption.

No matter how an employee uses their keeping in touch days, it will have no effect on their parental leave entitlements. If fact, an employee does not even have to use their keeping in touch days at all.

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Accepted Work Activities for Keeping in Touch Days

Working while on paid parental leave is not allowed under The Department of Human Services guidelines. For this reason, the department has strict guidelines on the kind of activities an employee can do on keeping in touch days.

Below are accepted activities for keeping in touch days:

  • Participate in a planning day
  • Attend a conference
  • Receive on the job training

An employee may also be allowed to perform some basic paid work. But only if the purpose is to refresh their skills, learn a new procedure or process, transition back into the workplace, or attend a meeting in respect of the future of their role.

Keep in mind an employee on unpaid parental leave is allowed to participate in unpaid workplace activities. For example, to attend a work-related social event, or access work emails during a casual social visit to the workplace.

Work Activities Not Considered a Keeping in Touch Day

If an employee does paid work for any reason other than to assist their transition back into work, Human Services will consider the employee to be back at work and cease their paid Parental Leave payments. This also applies to doing paid work unrelated to their transition back for only a part day and filling in for an absent employee.

An employee will also have returned to work if they:

  • resume regular work activities, other than keeping in touch days;
  • access more than 10 keeping in touch days before the end of their Paid Parental Leave period;
  • access a keeping in touch day within the first 2 weeks after the birth of their child.

In addition, it is unacceptable for an employee to work for another employer while on unpaid parental leave. If caught doing this, the employee will be seen as back at work and their Paid Parental leave payments would stop.

Keeping in Touch Days when you are Self-Employed

Keeping in touch days are not for employees who are self employed.

Self-employed workers are allowed to monitor their business while they receive Paid Parental leave benefits without being considered back at work.

Paid work is allowed if it is to oversee the business, or performing occasional administrative tasks or other ad hoc activities to keep your business going, including paying an account, checking the delivery of an order, arranging a repair or dealing with a dispute. These are administrative tasks as they don’t create a sale or income. 

Payment for Keeping in Touch Days

When you give an employee permission to use a keeping in touch day, you must pay the employee their normal wage for their time at work.

For example, if an employee has a keeping in touch day and does four hours of work, you must pay that employee four hours’ worth of their hourly wage. If an employee come to work for a whole day, then you would pay that employee the same daily wage you would if they were considered to be returning to work.

Under the National Employment Standards (NES) a keeping in touch day does not affect an employee’s entitlement to unpaid parental leave.

Employsure can help you understand keeping in touch days. Call us for free initial advice on 1300 207 182.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who Is Eligible For Keeping In Touch Days?

    Employees on unpaid parental leave are eligible for Keeping in Touch days.

  • How Many Keep In Touch Days Are You Allowed?

    Eligible employees are allowed a maximum of 10 keeping in touch days for the initial 12 months unpaid parental leave period but are entitled to 10 more days if the unpaid parental leave is extended for a further 12 months.

  • Are Keeping In Touch Days Paid?

    Yes, an employee gets their normal wage and accumulates leave entitlements for each keeping in touch day or part day that they work.

  • Do Keeping In Touch Days Affect Paid Parental Leave?

    Keeping in touch days do not affect paid parental leave, as they don’t count as having returned to work.

  • Who Pays For Keeping In Touch Days?

    The employer pays the employee for work performed on keeping in touch days, but the employee may also be entitled to paid parental leave.

  • Are Keeping In Touch Days Compulsory?

    An employer must provide an employee with keeping in touch days but the employee doesn’t have to use the keeping in touch days if they don’t wish to.

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