Keeping in touch days give your employees on unpaid parental leave the chance to go back to work for a few days.
They are a great way for employees to keep in touch 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, or attend training sessions to learn new skills.
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 what an employee can do during a keeping in touch day. If an employee does an activity that is not in line with keeping in touch guidelines, it may affect their Parental Leave Pay.
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 maternity leave entitlements. If fact, an employee does not even have to use their keeping in touch days at all.
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:
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 regards to 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.
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.
It is also 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.
Self-employed workers are allowed to monitor their business while they receive Paid Parental leave benefits without being considered back at work.
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.