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Paid Parental Leave Eligibility in Australia | Australian Unions

Parental Leave

The Federal Government provides new parents in Australia with the Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

This offers up to 18 weeks of paid leave for workers that are giving birth to or adopting a child.

The goal of paid parental leave is to provide new parents with a period of time away from work to look after their new child, rest and recuperate.

Paid Parental Leave Eligibility

If you are eligible for this scheme, you will be paid at the national minimum wage rate during the time you are on parental leave.

To be eligible you must:

  • Be the primary carer of a newborn or adopted child.
  • Earned less than $151,350 in the previous financial year.
  • Agree not to complete any paid work while you are receiving paid parental leave.
  • Be able to meet the criteria of income, employment and residency tests to be completed online.

To confirm whether you are eligible, please visit the Services Australia website.

Unpaid Parental Leave

If you have confirmed your eligibility for Paid Parental Leave Scheme and have been employed for at least 12 months (excluding any unauthorised absences), then you have the right to take up to 1 year of unpaid leave from work. There is nothing to stop you from accessing both at the same time – meaning you can organise both paid and unpaid leave concurrently.  However, because the work test and minimum period of employment for the Paid Parental Leave Scheme and unpaid parental leave are slightly different, there may be some circumstances where you may qualify for one before you qualify for the other.

Some enterprise bargaining agreements, policies or contracts also provide paid parental leave on top of the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme. This means that you will receive payments from both your employer and the government during this time.

Eligibility to payment from your employer is dependent upon your award and agreements, so it is advisable to discuss this prior to your leave period commencing.  If you have a partner and are both considering taking some leave, please read our section on Paternity and Partner Leave [link it] too.

Amount & Length of Leave

Parental leave is usually 18 weeks in duration for new parents in Australia. This is deemed to be the suitable amount of time for new parents to look after the new child. Paid Parental Leave is currently $772.60 per week.

During this 18 weeks of paid parental leave, workers will be paid at the national minimum wage. This is funded by the Government although employers may also make paid leave contributions and must still process payments through their payroll.   The 18 weeks of leave does not need to be taken all at once.   The first 60 days of leave must be taken as a single block of leave, however the remaining 30 days may be taken flexibly.  For example, a new parent may agree with their employer to return to work part time after 12 weeks of leave and use the remaining 30 days of paid parental leave under the scheme to supplement their income during their non-working days.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does parental leave work?

Parental leave is a period that allows new parents to take time off work to look after a new child. Under the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme, this is paid at the national minimum wage and is paid to employees during a standard pay cycle.

The Paid Parental Leave scheme provides two payments: Parental Leave Pay and Partner Pay. The former is for the primary career whilst the latter is for partners and fathers.

Paid Parental Leave cannot be provided in one lump sum payment, and nor can you take it at half pay. Parental leave is gender neutral and any primary carer giving birth to or adopting a child is eligible.

Employees must have worked for at least 10 of the 13 months before birth or adoption of  their child, for a total of at least at least 330 hours.  

Employers are not permitted to decrease your rate of pay or change your role within the company because you are on parental leave or for reasons including that reason.

How many weeks do you get for parental leave?

Paid Parental leave in Australia is usually 18 weeks long. This allows new parents a suitable period to look after new children and recuperate.

Eligible working parents receive 18 weeks of parental leave pay at the national minimum wage through the Paid Parental Leave Scheme. This is funded by the Government although employers must still process payments through their payroll. Employees may also be entitled to 52 weeks of unpaid leave from their employment.  

Do employers have to pay parental leave?

In addition to government-funded paid parental leave, employers often have their own paid parental leave policy. This allows employees to take off work for the birth of a child. This leave is often unpaid, but some enterprise agreements, policies and employment contracts do offer paid parental leave.

How many parental leave days can you take?

As above, there are minimum entitlements to unpaid parental leave of 52 weeks for eligible employees and the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme provides 18 weeks of payment at the National Minnimum Wage for eligible claimants. Primary Carers are entitled to 12 months of parental leave which commences from the expected date of the child’s birth. Partners can take up to 2 weeks of paid leave during this time. In addition to these minimum entitlements, enterprise agreements, workplace policies or employment contracts may provide other benefits.

Does parental leave affect your super?

Minimum standards do not require employers to make super contributions on payments made under the paid parental leave scheme or during a period of unpaid leave. However, enterprise agreements, workplace policies or employment contracts may provide these benefits.     

The Paid Parental Leave scheme does not prevent you from making voluntary super contributions during parental leave, and some parents choose to do so to ensure their balance continues to grow during this important time.

Can you take paid parental leave at half pay?

No, parental leave must be paid according to your normal pay cycle. For example, if you usually receive a fortnightly payment then this is how you will receive your Parental Leave Pay. It is not possible to take this amount at half pay, over an extended period.

How much is government-paid parental leave?

Paid Parental Leave is currently $772.60 per week which equates to  $154.51 a day before tax.

This amount is based on the weekly national minimum wage. You can get it for up to 18 weeks which is a total of 90 paid days. It is taxed in the same way as regular wage income.

When can I start parental leave?

If you are pregnant, you can start your unpaid parental leave up to 6 weeks before your due date. If you would like to begin your leave sooner then it is possible to arrange this with your employer.

If you are not giving birth, such as in the case of a partner or an adoption, then your leave will commence on the date of birth or placement of the child.   Payment under the paid parental leave scheme does not commence until after the child has been born.

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