parental leave

Employees are entitled to parental leave when a child is born, when the employee’s spouse or partner gives birth, or when an employee adopts a child under 16 years of age.

Parental leave entitlements include:

maternity leave

paternity and partner leave

adoption leave

special maternity leave

a ‘safe job’ or ‘no safe job’ leave

a right to return to the old job.

paid parental leave

Paid parental leave is available to working parents who meet the eligibility criteria. Eligible working parents can receive 18 weeks of government-funded parental leave pay at the rate of the National Minimum Wage (from 1 July 2018, $719.20 for a 38 hour week).

The Government Paid Parental Leave scheme provides parental leave pay but does not provide an entitlement to leave. Under the National Employment Standards (NES) in the Fair Work Act 2009, employees who have worked with current employers for at least 12 months before the birth or adoption of their child may be entitled to 12 months’ unpaid parental leave. If the employer agrees, this can be extended to 24 months. The payments can be paid before, after, or at the same time as existing entitlements such as annual leave, long service leave and employer-funded paid parental leave. 

For more information about parental leave entitlements under the Fair Work Act 2009 visit the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website or the Department of Human Services at

Employers must provide parental leave pay to an eligible employee who:

is the primary carer of a new born or adopted child

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

satisfies residence requirements

is expected to receive at least eight weeks of parental leave pay.

If your employee does not meet the above criteria, you’re not required to provide parental leave pay. However, benefits of offering a paid parental leave program include: demonstrating the company cares about the health and well-being of their employees; reducing staff turnover; and increasing employee retention. All of which can save the company money in the long term by avoiding the cost of recruitment and training of new employees.

paid parental leave: Dad and Partner Pay

Paid leave for dads and partners came into effect in January 2013, providing up to two weeks’ pay at the National Minimum Wage ($719.20 from 1 July 2018) for working dads or partners, including same-sex partners. They must not be working during this time or must be on unpaid leave.

These payments are made by the government directly into the employee’s bank account once their claim has been finalised, however, it’s still important to be aware of Dad and Partner Pay because your employee may approach you about taking unpaid leave so they can receive Dad and Partner Pay. For further information visit > Business and employers > Services for employers > Paid parental leave scheme for employers.

can employees work while receiving parental leave pay?

To receive parental leave pay, employees must not work from the time they become their child’s primary carer until the end of the paid parental leave period. If an employee returns to work before the agreed date, their parental leave pay will stop from that day. In this circumstance the unused part of their parental leave pay may be transferred to their partner, providing they meet the eligibility criteria and make a formal claim. 

If an employee decides to return to work early, they must notify the Family Assistance Office on 13 61 50. While employees can’t work while receiving parental leave pay, the scheme does provide for them to ‘keep in touch’ with the workplace.

how does ‘keeping in touch’ work?

As long as you both agree, your employee can access up to ten ‘keeping in touch’ days from the time they become their child’s primary carer until the end of the paid parental leave period. 

The employee can work these days one at a time or all together. ‘Keeping in touch’ days have to be at least 42 days after the birth of the child. They can only be earlier if an employee requests it. However, a keeping in touch day cannot take place until 14 days after the birth. 

You and your employee must agree on the activity that will take place as part of a ‘keeping in touch’ day. As keeping in touch activities are considered paid work, you are obliged to pay your employee directly in accordance with their relevant contract of employment or industrial instrument.

Keeping in touch days are intended to assist an employee’s eventual return to work by maintaining a positive connection with the workplace and maintaining skills and knowledge while on leave.

There’s no requirement to notify the Family Assistance Office or keep a formal record of keeping in touch activities, but it’s considered best practice to have a documented agreement about the arrangements that will apply to paid work while an employee is on leave, including ‘keeping in touch’ days.

What’s included in ‘keeping in touch’?

Examples of included activities:

participating in a planning meeting

performing on-the-job training

attending a conference.

An employee doesn’t have to use ‘keeping in touch’ days if they do not wish to.

navigating the Paid Parental Leave Scheme

employers need to register for Centrelink Business Online Services at > Business and employers > Services for employers > Centrelink’s Business Hotline and then opt-in to provide parental leave pay before your employees lodge their claim for the scheme

your business must have an Australia Business Number (ABN) to participate in the scheme

Centrelink will contact you if you are required to provide parental leave pay to an employee

the Family Assistance Office will provide parental leave pay to an eligible parent who does not receive it from their employer.

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