Wednesday, 11 May 2016

5 Quick Facts About Taking Parental (Maternity) Leave in Australia

Congratulations! You're pregnant!

Now what?

So you can try to read the 25 page policy and procedure your Company has on the intranet. 

Or you can go to the Fair Work website and learn how public servants are forced to write documents (not for the faint of heart)

Or I can lay down the bare bones for you here.

FACT 1
Parental leave is for both parents. That's right. So you lucky ones get 24 months between you. But don't go cracking the champagne quite yet... remember, you will have a baby so this is no holiday. You also can't take it  at the same time as your partner for more than 8 weeks.
So if mum decides to take leave first (which is the usual way people do this) then you can take leave up to 6 weeks prior to your due date, and you can take up to 12 months total of unpaid leave. If you want to take more than 12 months then you need to gain agreement from your employer.

FACT 2
You need to have worked for your employer for at least 12 months to be eligible for unpaid parental leave. BUT in order to not be subject to any discrimination claims, most employers are open to negotiating a time with you if you have less than 12 months service. General rule of thumb is that they will give you the time off that you have worked there. (So 6 months service may get you 6 months of unpaid leave.)

FACT 3
The Tony Abbot cry of "no more double dipping" (because we are all living life large on those paid parental leave payments) has not had legislation pass. So for the moment, feel free to take any paid parental leave your employer is giving you, and apply for the Government Paid Parental Leave, if you are eligible, and ready to spend 3 weeks completing paperwork and talking to Centrelink.

FACT 4
You must give written notice to your employer of your intention to take parental leave at least 10 weeks prior to your intention to start leave and then again at 4 weeks prior you need to confirm those dates. Most employers want you to provide them with a letter from your Doctor confirming the pregnancy. 

FACT 5
Lots of things can happen when you are on parental leave - get on the front foot and find out how the business can stay in touch with you. Most organisations have a "keep in touch" policy and if they don't then ask your Manager to keep you "in the loop" as many Managers won't feel comfortable in doing this unless you ask. Sure, there is legislation about consultation, but I won't bore you with that here. Just ask for the highlights from time to time so you have an idea of what is going on which makes the transition back to work a whole lot easier!

Now I haven't gone into much detail here, and this is really just a few general pointers. Do you have some questions? Go ahead and ask and I may include the Q&As in an upcoming post
--NOTE -- All references here are related to the Fair Work Act. You need to be covered by the FWA for this to apply (so be in a corporation in Australia.)

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