In Australia, we are fortunate to have reasonably good laws around parental leave, although this has only been a relatively recent development. The primary carer of a new baby, including when one is adopted, has certain entitlements around leave. They are allowed to take unpaid leave from their employment without their job being affected. They are also entitled to paid parental leave from the government.
Isn’t it awesome that it’s no longer called maternity leave?
In Australia, we are fortunate to
have reasonably good laws around parental leave, although this has only been a
relatively recent development.
The primary carer of a new baby, including when one is adopted, has certain
entitlements around leave. They are allowed to take unpaid leave from their
employment without their job being affected. They are also entitled to paid
parental leave from the government.
There are obviously some conditions and restrictions around all of
this; we will go into a bit more detail below.
Government Paid Parental Leave
The current parental leave pay from the Australian government is
available to the primary carer of a newborn or newly adopted child, provided
they meet the following conditions:
earned less than $150,000 in the last financial year
on leave or not working whilst receiving Parental Leave Pay
done enough work in the 13 months before to meet thework
This is available to the birth mother of a newborn child, the adoptive
parent of a child, or another person caring for a child under exceptional
circumstances. The partner of the child’s birth mother or adoptive parent is
also able to take this payment if that person transfers
their Parental Leave Pay and care of the child over.
So, it doesn’t have to be the mother who stays home and receives the
entitlement; she may go back to work and the family can still receive the
payment while her partner stays home.
It is also available under some conditions to the birth mother who no
longer has the care of the child due to
adoption or surrogacy, and to an adoptive parent. This can include when you’ve
had a child placed in your care through a formal foster arrangement with a view
to adopting the child.
The pay is equivalent to a full-time minimum wage for up to 18 weeks.
As well as this payment, your partner may also be eligible for Dad and
Partner Pay for up to 2 weeks. This allows both of you to be home together and
look after each other with pay entitlements for two weeks.
However, in a nutshell, if you worked at least one day a week for ten
of the 13 months prior to your baby’s birth you may be entitled to the government parental pay. This includes full-time
people as well as part-time, casual and contract, and also can include
self-employed people, even if they generate no income.
Leave with your employer
In Australia, you are able to
take leave from an ongoing role to look after your baby without it affecting
your job. In most cases, your job should
be held for you to return to as you left it.
Legally, you are entitled to take up to 12 months plus you can request another
12 months, unpaid, but still have your job held for you when you get back.
Your employer isn’t required to give you paid parental leave, although
many (awesome) employers will.
If you have a contract with your employer for paid parental leave, you may
still be entitled to the government parental leave pay outlined above as well.
Conditions of unpaid leave
Again, there are conditions around this. You need to have been with
that employer for 12 months and worked relatively constantly throughout that period.
The leave can be taken if you are the primary carer, so whether you are
the father or the mother, and also applies for adoption as well as birth
Under the Fair Work Act,
employees who have responsibility for the care of a child and are returning to work
after taking leave in relation to the birth of the child may request to work
part-time to assist the employee to care for the child.
You must make your request for
flexibility in writing and your employer must respond to the request in writing
within 21 days. A request can be refused by your employer on ‘reasonable
business grounds’ which may include (but
is not limited to) considerations such as that:
The proposed arrangements
would be too costly
There is no capacity to change
the working arrangements of other employees to accommodate the proposed
It would be impractical to
change the working arrangements of other employees or recruit new employees to
accommodate the proposed arrangements
The proposed arrangements
would be likely to result in a significant loss in efficiency or productivity
The proposed arrangements
would be likely to have a significant negative impact on customer service.
‘Reasonable business grounds’
will vary from business to business and take into account the size of the organisation.
So legally, you can ask for a flexible arrangement, and unless they
have excellent grounds for not doing so, your employer needs to offer you one.
But technically, your employer does not have to give adjusted hours or
conditions, if their business won’t be able to support it. Or alternatively,
they may offer you a flexible arrangement which doesn’t really work for you.
Possible flexible work
Returning to your same job, but with fewer
hours (and hopefully a reduced role!)
A shared job arrangement with another part-timer
Some ability to work from home or after hours
Returning to a different role with the same employer, that is better
suited to part-time hours than your previous one.
Remember, this is general information. For specifics, you should check out the relevant websites or speak to
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