Paid Parental Leave

All employees are entitled to unpaid parental leave when a new child is born or adopted. Minimum entitlements to parental leave apply to all employees in Australia.

Employees can also have extra entitlements, such as paid parental leave, under an award, agreement, company policy or another law (e.g. the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave scheme). These entitlements can't be less than the entitlements in the National Employment Standards. Find out about parental leave on the Fair Work Ombudsman's website.

Australian Government Paid Parental Leave scheme

The Australia Government Paid Parental Leave scheme is for working parents of children born or adopted on or after 1 January 2011. The scheme provides eligible working parents who are the primary carer of a newborn or adopted child with a maximum of 18 weeks of Government-funded pay at the National Minimum Wage.

You must provide Parental Leave Pay for an eligible employee who:

  • has worked for you for at least 12 months before the expected date of birth or adoption
  • will be your employee for their Paid Parental Leave period
  • works in Australia
  • is expected to receive at least eight weeks of Parental Leave Pay.

Working dads or partners are also eligible to receive up to two weeks of Government-funded pay at the National Minimum Wage, called Dad and Partner Pay. This is for children born or adopted on or after 1 January 2013.

Employer responsibilities

Employers play an important role in the scheme because, in most cases, Parental Leave Pay is provided to eligible working parents by their employer. If you have an eligible employee you will receive funds from the Department of Human Services before you need to provide Parental Leave Pay to your employee.

You pay Parental Leave Pay to your employee in the way you would normally pay their salary or wages.

Register for the Paid Parental Leave scheme through Centrelink's Business Online Services. You will be notified if and when you have an eligible employee.

If you have an employee you think may apply for Parental Leave Pay, it's a good idea to talk to them about their options to prepare both yourself and your employee.

An eligible employee can choose to receive Parental Leave Pay before, after, or at the same time as employer-provided paid leave such as recreation or annual leave and employer-provided parental leave.

Employee responsibilities

If you are a working parent, including a self-employed worker, you may be eligible for payments under the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave scheme.

The scheme provides a maximum 18 weeks pay at the National Minimum Wage.

You don't need to contact Centrelink if you have an employee who wishes to apply for Parental Leave Pay. Your employee will need to do this and to lodge a claim for Parental Leave Pay.

It is the employee's responsibility to contact Centrelink and lodge their own claim. Centrelink will determine the employee's eligibility for Parental Leave Pay.

Claims for Parental Leave Pay can be lodged online or in person up to three months prior to the expected date of birth or adoption of their child.

Keep in touch during Parental Leave

As a small business owner, you might have an employee on parental leave. Employers and employees are encouraged to keep in regular contact during periods of parental leave. If you both agree, your employee can come to work for up to 10 days as Keeping in Touch days, without it affecting their unpaid parental leave entitlements.

Keeping in Touch days aim to keep your employee connected with the workplace, become familiar with updated processes and help transition them back to work. Employees using Keeping in Touch days are paid their usual wage for the days they work, and their entitlement to unpaid leave won't change.

Activities could include, but are not limited to:

  • participating in a planning meeting
  • performing on-the-job training
  • performing work to become familiar with the workplace and/or their role before returning to work.

Visit the Department of Human Services website for more information about Keeping in Touch days.

What to do...

  • Visit the Centrelink website for further information on the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme, or call their Family and Parents line on 136 150 for eligibility information and to make a claim.
  • Read the Paid Parental Leave scheme Employer Toolkit.
  • Visit Fair Work Ombudsman's website for information about parental leave, including information about the records you need to keep.
  • Call the Centrelink Business Hotline on 13 11 58 for any queries.

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