A Guide to Parental Leave in Australia

A Guide to Parental Leave in Australia

By Babysits, 5 min read

If you’re expecting a new addition to your family, it’s important to know where you stand in terms of parental leave entitlements. Take a read of our guide to navigating parental leave in Australia.

Parental Leave in Australia

In Australia, employees are entitled to parental leave when a child is born or adopted. Parents are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave, and may also request an extra 12 months of parental leave. Parents must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months before the birth of their child in order to be eligible for parental leave.

Parental leave entitlements include:

  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity and partner leave
  • Adoption leave
  • Special maternity leave
  • "Safe job" and "no safe job" leave

Am I entitled to Parental Leave?

To qualify for parental leave, parents must have worked for their employer for a minimum of 12 months in either a full-time or part-time capacity. It is also possible that you might be eligible for parental leave if you have worked at least 12 months in a casual capacity. However, parents should have worked for their employer for 12 months (or more) before the date or expected date of birth or adoption in order to receive parental leave.

Pregnant employees are entitled to begin their maternity leave up to six weeks before their due date. Parents who are adopting, or who are the partner of the person giving birth, may begin their leave on the day of birth or adoption.

Expecting Another Child

When you return to work after taking parental leave, it is not necessary to wait until you have worked another 12 months before being able to take parental leave again. However, this only stands if you return to work with the same employer. If you choose to find another job, you will need to stay with your new employer for 12 months before being eligible for parental leave.

How long is parental leave in Australia?

Parents are entitled to 52 weeks of (unpaid) parental leave in Australia. This applies to both parents, if both parents are eligible to receive parental leave. However, keep in mind that parents may only take 8 weeks off at the same time.

If you come to the end of your 52 weeks of parental leave and decide you’d like to extend, it is possible to extend for another 52 weeks. However, you need to inform your employer at least 4 weeks before you're due back at work. Employers must respond within 21 days and must give a valid and fair reason if declining the extension.

Parental Leave Pay (PLP)

Parents in Australia are able to receive both Parental Leave Pay (PLP) from the government, as well as paid parental leave from their employer. If you happen to be receiving both, you are still eligible to receive unpaid parental leave.

Parental Leave Pay is paid at the Australian national minimum wage.

There are many ways in which you can be flexible with your Parental Leave Pay. Read more about it here.

Paternity and Partner Leave

Employed fathers and partners (including same-sex partners) are entitled to receive 2 weeks of paid leave. These payments are at the national minimum wage and are paid directly into the father or partner’s bank account from the Australian government.

There are a few requirements in order to receive Paternity Pay (otherwise known as Dad and Partner Pay):

  • You must be taking time off to care for a newborn or newly adopted child.
  • You must have earnt less than $150,000 in the last financial year.
  • You must not be working or taking paid leave during the time that you receive Dad and Partner Pay.
  • You must meet the work test.

“Safe Job” and “No Safe Job” Leave

All employees are entitled to move to a “safe job” if their usual job is deemed unsafe during pregnancy. This extends to all pregnant employees, regardless of how long they’ve been performing that role. This rule also extends to pregnant employees who are not eligible for unpaid parental leave.

If a pregnant employee is moved to a “safe job”, they will still receive the same pay rate, hours of work and benefits that they received in their previous position. However, they may negotiate different work hours with their employer. The pregnant employee will remain in the new “safe job” until they have given birth, or until it is safe to return to the original role.

“No safe job” refers to when a “safe job” is not available for the pregnant employee. In this case, the employee is entitled to take no safe job leave. If the employee is entitled to unpaid parental leave, no safe job leave is paid.

Taking Sick Leave While Pregnant

Pregnant employees are entitled to the regular sick leave benefits while they’re still working. In Australia, pregnancy is not considered an illness. However, if a pregnant employee has a pregnancy-related illness or injury, then they are entitled to take regular sick leave.

Returning to work after a pregnancy

When returning to work, you are entitled to receive the same position that you had before you left for maternity leave. However, if that position is no longer available, then you are entitled to receive a position similar in pay and status to your original position.

If you took a “safe job” during your pregnancy, then you are still entitled to return to the original “unsafe job” you had prior to the transfer. The same goes for a reduction in working hours. If you happened to reduce the number of hours you worked during your pregnancy, then you are entitled to return to the number of hours you worked before the pregnancy.

The information provided above is to be used as a starting point to understanding parental leave in Australia. For in-depth information, please visit Fair Work Australia.