Photo Courtesy: Kelly Sikkema collected from Unsplash
Paid parental leave in Australia is a very important economic lifeline for the working new parents. On 16 June 2020, the Federal Government passed the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Act 2020 which amends the paid parental leave scheme. The new law allows greater flexibility for eligible working parents in how they take their paid parental leave. Besides, on 3 September 2020, the Federal Government introduced the Fair Work Amendment (Improving Unpaid Parental Leave for Parents of Stillborn Babies and Other Measures) Bill 2020 to improve the unpaid parental leave entitlements of all eligible parent employees. It is necessary for all employers and employees in Australia to understand their entitlements and obligations concerning the Australian Government Parental Leave scheme and Unpaid Parental Leave.
1. What is Paid Parental Leave?
The PPL scheme is a Government-funded payment consisting of the following:
Parental Leave Pay - It is an 18 weeks payment at the rate of the national minimum wage for eligible primary carers of newborn and recently adopted children; and
Dad and Partner Pay- It is a two-week payment at the rate of the national minimum wage for eligible fathers and partners caring for newborn or recently adopted children.
2. What are the changes introduced by the new law?
The new law has offered the eligible parents greater flexibility regarding the paid parental leave to better suit their particular situation. From 1 July 2020, eligible employees can take the 18 weeks of paid parental leave as follows:
Non-flexible paid parental leave period: 12 weeks (60 weekdays), which must be taken in the 12 months following the birth or adoption of the child.
Flexible paid parental leave period: A maximum of 6 weeks (30 days), which can be taken any time after the initial period and within 24 months of the birth or adoption of the child.
Therefore, under the new law, the eligible employees can split their paid parental leave so they can take it over 2 years.
3. What is unpaid parental leave?
The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides eligible employee parents with an entitlement to up to 12 months’ job-protected unpaid parental leave associated with the birth or adoption of a child if they have or will have the responsibility for the day to day-care of the child.
Presently, if an employee has started birth-related unpaid parental leave and their child is either stillborn or dies, they are entitled to remain on the leave unless their employer directs them to return to work with 6 weeks’ notice.
4. Are there any changes regarding the unpaid parental leave under the new law?
If the Fair Work Amendment (Improving Unpaid Parental Leave for Parents of Stillborn Babies and Other Measures) Bill 2020 is passed by Parliament, the eligible employees can claim the following benefits:
Employees who suffer a traumatic event will have the same unpaid parental leave entitlements as all other eligible employees. They will be able to take their full 12 months of unpaid parental leave as a matter of right.
Flexible unpaid parental leave- the Bill also will allow all eligible parent employees to take up to a maximum of 30 days of their 12 months entitlement to unpaid parental leave flexibly until their child turns two. They can also access the leave on a one-day-at-a-time basis.
Once an employee has accessed the 30-days flexible unpaid parental leave, they will no longer be able to access any other form of unpaid parental leave concerning that child.
The employee will be required to give notice to the employer of their intention to take flexible unpaid parental leave:
at the same time the employee gives notice about commencing unpaid parental leave; or
otherwise, at least 10 weeks before starting the flexible unpaid parental leave, unless the employer agrees to a later day.
The employee will also be required to give their employer written notice of the particular day on which the employee will take flexible unpaid parental leave:
at least 4 weeks before the day the employee will take flexible unpaid parental leave; or
if that is not practicable, as soon as practicable.
The eligible employees who wish to make a permanent change to their working arrangements after returning from unpaid parental leave can request a flexible working arrangement which an employer may only refuse on reasonable business grounds.
If you need more information or help to understand your parental leave eligibility under the new law or if you need legal help with any parental leave related issues please contact us at www.lawcircuit.com.au or call us on +61418631798 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org