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Paternity Leave and Partner Leave Australia | Understand Your Rights To Paternity and Partner Leave

Paternity and Partner Leave

As a partner to a new parent, you may be able to access minimum entitlements to unpaid leave from your employer as well as payments funded by the government.   If you are the primary carer or birth mother of the child and you usually work, please be sure to also read our section on parental leave.

Unpaid leave is available if you have been employed for at least 12 months (excluding any unauthorised absences) and have a responsibility for the care of the child.  You do not need to be the primary care giver to access the leave.  Some employers have enterprise agreements, workplace policies or employment contracts that provide more generous entitlements, including entitlements to paid leave.

Understand Your Rights to Paternity and Partner Leave

Eligible working dads and partners (including same-sex partners) are entitled to unpaid parental leave for 12 months.  Only 8 weeks of that leave can be taken at the same time as your working partner is also accessing unpaid parental leave.   The remainder of your unpaid leave must start after your partner returns to work and be taken in a single continuous period, unless it is taken as flexible unpaid parental leave.

Flexible unpaid parental leave is for 30 days in the first 2 years of parenting.  You can take these days in a single continuous block of time or in smaller blocks.   It can be taken concurrently with your partner provided that, in total there is no more than 8 weeks of concurrent unpaid parental leave.  If you plan to take flexible unpaid parental leave, it will count as using part of your 12 month entitlement to unpaid parental leave. 

Employers & Paternity and Partner Leave in Australia

To organise unpaid paternity leave, simply talk to your employer in advance and submit a clear request in writing.

Make sure to do this at least 10 weeks before your child’s expected date of birth or adoption, and submit a request in writing.

In the request, you need to state if you want to claim Partner Pay and the dates that you would like to schedule. Your employer will then need to accept and register your request as part of the Parental Leave Pay application.

Partner Pay

The Federal Government offers up to two weeks of leave paid to partners of those who are having or adopting children. This is sometimes known as ‘Dad Pay’, but it is not just Dads who can access it.

Like the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, Partner Pay is also paid at the minimum wage ($772.60 per week) for up to 2 weeks.

To qualify for partner pay you must:

  • Have caring responsibilities for a newborn or newly adopted child on each day of the Partner Pay period
  • Have earned less than $151,350 in the last financial year
  • Not be working or taking paid leave during your Partner Pay period
  • Be able to meet the criteria of a number of income, employment and residency tests

To find out whether you are eligible, visit the Services Australia website.

How Can I Get Paid Paternity and Partner Leave?

Once you have negotiated your paternity leave with your employer and reached an agreement, you can submit your own application for Partner Pay online.

The best way to do so is to submit your claim online via the myGov website. Once you’ve logged into your account, you’ll be able to submit your Claim for Paid Parental Leave form. 

Unlike other leave available through the Paid Parent Leave scheme, Partner Pay is paid to you directly by Services Australia, rather than your employer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get paternity leave or partner leave?

To be eligible for paternity leave or partner leave, you must have worked for your current employer for 12 months or more. You are then entitled to 12 months of unpaid leave. This unpaid leave period is available to full-time workers as well as to regular casuals.  You may also qualify for Partner Pay for 2 weeks and/or for more generous entitlements under an enterprise agreement, workplace policy or employment contract. 

How much paternity leave are fathers entitled to in Australia?

Paid government paternity leave for eligible fathers in Australia is 2 weeks. This period is to be organised with your employer and you will be paid directly by the federal government.

You will be paid at the national minimum wage during your paternity leave period. In addition, Employees who have been with their employer for more than 12 months are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave.

Should men get paternity leave from work?

Yes, men in Australia are entitled to paternity leave. The purpose of paternity leave is for fathers to be able to spend time with their new family, support their partner and spend time with their newborn.

From an employment perspective, parental leave policies are designed to protect workers during the birth or adoption of their child.

Ensuring the existence of paid parental leave ensures that children can be cared for, parents receive time to rest, and that a good work-life balance is maintained.

What paternity leave are fathers entitled to?

In Australia, eligible fathers and partners are entitled to 2 weeks of government-funded pay. Dad and Partner Pay is made available after fathers have a baby or adopt a child. This includes same-sex parents.

Employers don’t actually process the payment as this comes from the government – but they are required to keep records and agree to the dates of the paternity leave.

How does paternity leave in Australia work?

Your paternity leave claim can be submitted online with the myGov portal. Simply log into your account, select the payments tab and apply for Family Assistance (including Paid Parental Leave).

Am I eligible for paternity leave?

To be eligible for paternity leave you will need to be responsible for the care of a newborn or adopted child. Both parents in the relationship are also entitled to unpaid parental leave.

If you have worked for your current employer for 12 months or more, then you are able to apply for 2 weeks for paid paternity leave and 12 months of unpaid paternity leave.

Can you get Partner Pay if you’re not married?

Your relationship status can affect your eligibility for paternity pay.  It is available to:

  • the child’s biological father
  • the partner of the birth mother
  • an adoptive parent
  • a partner of an adoptive parent
  • a person caring for a child born of a surrogacy arrangement.

In some circumstances, it may also be payable to a partner of the biological father, or partner of a new carer where care arrangements have changed (other than a foster care or permanent care arrangement).

If you are having a baby with your partner, then you are usually classified as a couple. You can be classified as a couple if you are married, in a registered relationship or in a de facto relationship.

You may be considered as a couple if you’re not living together under some circumstances, such as if you’re required to live apart due to work requirements.

When can I apply for paternity leave or partner leave?

If you want to take unpaid paternity leave or partner leave, then you will need to apply to your employer within the appropriate notice period.

Ideally, you should apply at least 10 weeks before starting your paternity leave. This notice needs to be in writing. In this document, you will need to state how much leave you want to take and clearly include the start and end dates.  You should also indicate any period during which you will be seeking Partner Pay.

Can I get Partner Pay if I’m self-employed?

Yes, you are still entitled to receive payments if you are self-employed.

The application process you need to complete is the same as employees. Simply log on to the myGov site and answer all the required questions.

All of your entitlements will be the same as permanent full-time workers, including 2 weeks of Partner Pay at the minimum wage rate.

Can an employer refuse paternity leave or partner leave?

After you have submitted your application, your employer must grant you leave for your requested dates unless you are ineligible or have not given them sufficient notice.

If your employer declines your application  then you may have the option of taking the matter to the Fair Work Commission or to Court.  You should speak to your union about what action is available to you in your particular circumstances. 

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