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Parental leave entitlements

Published October 22, 2019 (last updated on February 29, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


What are the entitlements to parental leave?

Just like other forms of leave such as sick leave and annual leave, employees on parental leave have certain entitlements. Most employees in Australia are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave.

It is important to note that each member of an employee couple, whether spouses or de facto, are entitled to 12 months of unpaid leave each, regardless of whether they are employed by the same employer or not. Where this full period is accessed by each parent, the leave must be taken in separate periods and the combined leave must not be more than 24 months.

Parents of a child who wish to take parental leave at the same time, may do so, but it can be up to only eight weeks total and cannot be taken in periods of less than 2 weeks at a time. This form of leave is called ‘concurrent leave’.

Unpaid special maternity leave

There are some circumstances in which special maternity leave can also take place, for instance, if an employee has a pregnancy-related illness or after 12 weeks into their pregnancy they experience a miscarriage, termination of pregnancy or still birth.

Special maternity leave is unpaid and will not reduce the total period of unpaid parental leave may that still apply after special maternity leave has been taken.

It a pregnant employee requires alterations to their working schedule, employers should ensure the employee is in agreement to the changes made to their hours of work or pay.

If employers do not do this, they run the risk of an unfair dismissaldiscrimination, or adverse action claim. These can be detrimental to a business.

Parental leave for fathers

Eligible working dads and partners (including same-sex partners) may be entitled to ‘Dad and Partner Pay’. It is provided to partners who may need to take leave from work in order to support their partners and provide care for their new child.

Return to work guarantee

A lot of employees avoid taking leave for fear of not being able to return to their same position once the leave comes to an end. However, after taking parental leave, employees are entitled to return to the role they had before the leave, or if that role is not available, a role similar in status and pay.

It is important that you discuss with the employee any possible changes to working conditions that could affect them to ensure that their return is as smooth as possible. Once the employee has returned to work, they may be eligible to ask for flexible working arrangements applicable to employees who are caring for a child of school age or younger as in accordance with the National Employment Standards (NES).

If you have any questions about parental leave, do not hesitate to speak to an Employsure  specialist. Our team is available day or night on 1300 651 415.

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