thread: Parental Leave Entitlements: An overview

  1. #1
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!

    Parental Leave Entitlements: An overview

    Hi all,

    I have put together some basic details of Parental Leave in Australia. It is a complicated issue and each case/workplace/state can vary depending on your circumstances, so always check with your employer, but hopefully the below will enable you to get an idea of what you may be entitled to and what types of questions you need to ask your employer.

    Parental Leave

    Australian workers with family responsibilities now have greater choice in balancing their working lives with caring for their young children.

    Men and women are able to take time off work, without having to resign, to care for their child during the first year of its life.

    This is called parental leave, and it is available to all employees in Australia, including those employees not covered by industrial awards or agreements.

    Parental leave entitlements

    Federal workplace relations legislation entitles parents to a total of 52 weeks unpaid leave on a shared basis to care for their newborn or newly adopted child. This entitlement supplements, not overrides, entitlements under other federal, State and Territory legislation and awards. The federal legislation is intended to supplement any existing entitlements so that employees are required to use any parental leave entitlements that exist under relevant agreements, awards or State laws before accessing the Act's entitlements.

    Except for one week at the time of birth, each partner must take parental leave at different times. Both parents' combined leave cannot be more than 52 weeks.

    An employee who takes parental leave is, in most circumstances, entitled to return to the position he or she held before the leave was taken.

    Parental leave will not break an employee's continuity of service.

    Access to unpaid leave of the same kind is available to parents who adopt a child.

    Eligibility criteria

    To apply for parental leave, the employee must:

    ~Have completed at least 12 months continuous service with their employer by the expected date of birth;
    ~Provide notice of the expected date of birth at least ten weeks before that date (where possible);
    ~Advise their employer of their intention to take leave: mothers must give four weeks notice, and fathers must give ten weeks notice; and
    sign a statutory declaration detailing their spouse's leave arrangements, stating that they will be the child's primary care-giver and that they will not do other work inconsistent with their employment.

    If an employee takes parental leave they are entitled to:

    ~Return to the position held before the leave was taken; or for women who may have transferred to a different or part-time job because of their pregnancy, return to their earlier job;
    ~Take other leave (for example, annual leave) in combination with parental leave, but this will reduce the parental leave available so that the period away from work for both parents is not more that 52 weeks; and
    extend parental leave once within the 52 week period, provided notice is given to their employer. Any other extension within or after the 52 week period is at their employer's discretion (notice is not needed if the change is unforeseen ? for example, premature birth). Extending the period of parental leave generally requires the employer's agreement; and
    shorten parental leave, but generally only with the employer's agreement.
    ~Award/other legislative entitlements
    ~Employees may have an entitlement to parental leave under their award or State legislation. The 1990 Parental Leave Test Case established minimum award standards for parental leave for those covered by federal awards, and many federal awards were subsequently varied to include them. Parental leave in the States/Territories was implemented through legislation or test cases for insertion into State awards.

    These entitlements may vary across State jurisdictions. In addition to parental leave, the Parental Leave Test Case provided access to part-time work, with the agreement of the employer, up to a maximum of two years from the birth of the child. It also provides for maternity leave of up to six weeks before the birth of the child.

    Workplace Agreements

    Workplace agreements made under the Federal Government?s Workplace Relations Act provide a very effective means for introducing policies and practices, such as paid parental leave, which help employees balance their work and persoanl lives. An increasing number of businesses have found that the variety of options available for making agreements, and the processes involved, have enabled them to develop new and innovative initiatives that benefit both employees and the business.

    For more information on agreement making see the fact sheet on Making Innovative Agreements or the Work and Family Unit?s Resource Guide entitled Guide to the Federal Industrial Relations Framework?, and the publication Work and Family State of Play 1998.

    Maternity allowance

    The Federal Government pays Maternity Allowance in recognition of the extra costs incurred at the time of the birth of a new baby, for example, the cost of items such as cots and prams, or costs associated with the mother being unable to participate in the paid workforce around the time of the birth. Maternity Allowance may be paid for each child in a multiple birth, stillbirths, adoptions and babies who die shortly after birth.

    Maternity Allowance is paid as a non-taxable lump sum of $4000. Generally, it is paid with the first Family Allowance payment in respect of the baby.

    The allowance is targeted at low and middle income families and a person may be eligible for the payment regardless of whether or not they are in the workforce immediately prior to the birth of the baby.

    To be eligible for the Maternity Allowance, the family must meet the Family Allowance income, assets and residence tests.

    The claim for Maternity Allowance must be lodged with Centrelink within 26 weeks of the baby's birth.

    Maternity Immunisation Allowance

    Maternity Immunisation Allowance of $200 may be paid for children born on or after 1 January 1998. It is paid after the child reaches 18 months and either has been fully immunised or has a valid exemption for a conscientious objection or medical contraindications.

    Maternity Immunisation Allowance is available either where Maternity Allowance has been paid for the child, or where Family Allowance is being paid for the child at the time Maternity Immunisation Allowance is being claimed (that is, between 18 months and two years of age).

    A claim for Maternity Immunisation Allowance must be lodged before the child turns two years of age.

    For more information about Maternity Allowance or Maternity Immunisation Allowance, contact Centrelink on 13 13 05.

    For more information on work, contact the federal governments Work and Family Unit on (02) 6121 7742.
    Last edited by Lucy; June 8th, 2007 at 06:23 AM. : Update

  2. #2
    Kirsty77 Guest

    Hi Lucy

    Thanks for the info but I have one question.With regards to the one year continuous service, I was casual for 18 months but just recently(october '04) went parttime making my total service 20 months, would I still qualify for maternity leave or did I have to be parttime for 12 months?


  3. #3
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!

    As far as I know, the continuous service can be part time or full time: the legislation doesn't discriminate. However, some organisations may attempt to pro-rata your length of service and imply that you needs 12 months of FT work......but this isn't the case.

    In your situation, with a total service of 20 months, you should be fine. But I am not sure of the stance that your rmployees will take on the fact that you were casual for a portion of hte time, so check with your manager and/or your HR Dept if you have one.

    Hope this helps,

  4. #4
    BellyBelly Member

    Mar 2005

    If, for medical reasons, I had to stop working say 10 weeks before the baby is born - am I correct to assume that I would only be entitled to 42 weeks of leave AFTER the baby is born?

  5. #5
    Life Member

    May 2003
    Beautiful Adelaide!

    Yes, that would be correct. Unless of course you could utilise any annual leave or sick leave entitledments up before finishing up on maternity leave.

    The easiest way to think of it is that the day you finish up, you then would return a calendar year later, regardless.


  6. #6
    BellyBelly Member

    Jul 2007
    Colac, VIC

    Hello Lucy,

    I am returning to work for a previous employer after 5 months elsewhere, before I left I'd been fulltime for over 2 1/2 years but as I'll only be 'back' for about 5 months before I have to leave again, there will be no maternity leave obligation will there?

    Are there any provisions for people who have worked less than 12 months?

    Hoping my employer will be understanding (& need employees!!) when I want to come back... again.

    Thanks for any advice,

  7. #7
    KatieJane Guest

    Hi Lucy,

    Im a little confused is the Maternity Allowance the same as the Baby Bonus? I though the Baby Bonus was distributed through the ATO.

  8. #8
    BellyBelly Member

    Jun 2007
    Brisbane Australia

    Hi Lucy,

    I currently am FT in my position and when I return to work after my maternity leave I am wanting to be PT. Is my employer still beholden to offer my old position to me even though I only want PT hrs rather than FT or could they change my position? Thanks

  9. #9
    Registered User

    Dec 2006
    In my own private paradise

    HI KatieJane

    there are a number of changes that have happened since Lucy created this post. The Maternity Allowance was renamed Maternity Payment and is now the Baby Bonus through the family assistance office. it's no longer means tested in any way.

    The baby bonus you're referring to is administered by the ATO and was about $500 per year for children born prior to a certain date (i believe) -

    it's just crummy that names keep changing to confuse everyone!


  10. #10
    mrspiggy83 Guest

    That's right the yearly baby bonus stopped a few years back...I can't remember what year exactly. If you were lucky enough to get in before they stopped it I think it's five years your entitled to depending base year income and current year income...I can't remember exactly how it works (I'm an under graduate accountant). If your ever looking for tax info check out the ATO website and use the search function...with a little time and effort and can normally find what your looking for. Also if you have a look at the FAO website it tells you all about family related payments.



  11. #11
    BellyBelly Member

    Nov 2006

    What is the deal if you get pregnant with number 2 while on mat leave for no 1? Can you just return to work for 6 or 10 or 15 weeks or whatever? Or, if the baby is due around the time you would have returned to work, can you just apply for another period of mat leave? And are you entitled to another paid period of leave if that was the arrangement under your award (so, 6 wks paid leave each mat leave period even if you don't come back to work at all?)????

  12. #12
    Aneta Guest

    Hi Lucy, just a few questions...
    I currently work full time (have been since 11/07) and am due 02/09... I may have to go down to part time hours due to the pregnancy and am worried as to how that will affect my maternity leave. As a full time employee I can take 14wks at full pay or 28wks at part pay (which is what ill be doing, so that i can have 7months off paid).. however if I drop to part time hours for the duration of the pregnancy, once I go on maternity leave, will they pay me at the part time or full time rate for the 14/28wks?? As I wld still be contracted as a full time employee just having to work part time hours for a numer of months?? so confused, and cant ask my boss as he doesnt like me discussing this pregnancy/leave conditions in terms of money!!!
    Also, if I decide to take the full 52wks off (5months unpaid) with every intent on going back to work after maternity leave, if for any reason i cannot return to work, does that affect the maternity leave pay the employer would have paid me over the 7months?? I dont understand what the "intent to return to work" forms id have to sign are...???

  13. #13
    Registered User

    Dec 2006
    In my own private paradise

    Aneta - as a general rule, you will be paid your mat leave based on the hours you're working immediately before you go on leave. the intent to return to work forms would probably have a clause stating you are to return to work, and if not, you will be expected to pay pay X amount of your maternity leave pay (if that's what your agreement is) - if you're confused about the wording of the form you're going to sign, i'd take the time to call a legal advice line - don't sign anything until you're 100% comfortable signing it and fully understand it.

  14. #14
    Registered User

    Aug 2008


    Can someone please tell me, - if I'm a teacher going from contract (3yr) to permanent, - does that count as 'continuous service'?

    Thanks heaps!

  15. #15
    Registered User

    Dec 2006
    In my own private paradise

    i believe you'd only be classified as service from the date you became permanent - but you'd be best to check with the education department in your state.

  16. #16
    Registered User

    Jan 2008
    Central Coast NSW

    Hi BLBG - it should in NSW and you should also get your paid Mat leave too.

  17. #17
    BellyBelly Life Subscriber

    Aug 2009

    A question I haven't seen answered anywhere or been able to find an answer to online:

    I am in a sales role and am currently paid commission, will the commission I earn continue to be paid while I am on maternity leave?

  18. #18
    Registered User

    Dec 2006
    In my own private paradise

    would depend on your own contract of employment

    i'm guessing no though as you're not contributing to the sales from which the commission is earned