Preston HR - Cairns HR Consultants

How Does Parental Leave Work?

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Are you a working parent in Cairns, Australia? If yes, chances are you're trying to figure out exactly what happens during those times when you have no choice but to accompany your little one at key moments in his or her life. Well, for the most part, parental leave is accessible to most if not all employees in Australia.

Essentially, parental leave and relevant entitlements are part of the National Employment Standards (NES). And of course, it applies to every employee covered by the national workplace relations system. For those who might not be aware, the NES is the 10 minimum employee entitlements that must be provided to all employees in Australia.  Parental leave provisions recognise everything from birth-related leave to adoption-related leave and even same-sex de facto relationships.

But that's not all, in addition to unpaid parental leave, the National Employment Standards also provide other entitlements like:

  • Right to take 'no safe job leave'
  • Unpaid special maternity leave
  • Unpaid pre-adoption leave.
  • Consultation requirements.

 

At this point, we're going to walk you through a couple of questions and answers that are likely to increase your chances of learning more about parental leave in Cairns and how it works.

Sounds good? Let's get started!

 

Which Employees are Eligible for Unpaid Parental Leave?

As mentioned earlier, just about every employee in Australia is eligible for unpaid parental leave. But it's however important to note that the eligibility depends on how long they have worked

with their employer.  A minimum of 12 months of continuous service is recommended for all employees seeking unpaid parental leave.  This requirement also applies to casual employees.

 

 

What is the Entitlement to Parental Leave?

Employees are able to take parental leave from a business if they have or will have responsibility for the care of a child. It's also good to know that two employees can be eligible for parental leave at the same time; that's if both are in a spousal or de facto relationship. With this in mind, you

should be aware that an employee couple (each eligible member) can choose to take a separate period of up to 12 months or 1 year of unpaid parental leave in a single continuous period. If one member wishes to take more than 12 months leave, he or she can ask the employer to extend the period accordingly.

Parental leave, in general, must be associated with the birth of a child to the said employee or the placement of a child (typically under 16) with the employee for adoption.

 

Rules for Taking Unpaid Parental Leave

At this point, you should be aware that several different HR rules come into play when looking to take parental leave. It's also important to note that the rules for a that apply to "one employee" differs from that of an "employee couple". So of course, it's crucial to get a better idea of each.

Here are the HR rules that come into play when one employee takes leave from a business:

  • The employee is only allowed to take the leave in a single continuous period.
  • If the employee who takes leave first isn't pregnant, the couple's leave will be scheduled to start on the date of birth.

 

Here are the HR rules that apply to an employee couple (or if both employees take unpaid parental leave):

  • The employees are generally entitled to a maximum of 24 months of leave (that's 12 months for each employee) and the leave must be taken separately in a single continuous period.
  • If an eligible member of an employee couple is pregnant, they may commence their leave 6 weeks before the expected date of birth. And of course, they can also choose to start earlier as long as they come into agreement with the employer.
  • An employee couple (that's the two members) may also choose to take leave concurrently for up to 8 weeks. It's however important to note that the leave must be taken within 12 months of delivery or adoption of a child. What's more, the employee couple may choose to take the concurrent leave in separate periods; but each period must be no shorter than 2 weeks.


What About Extension of Unpaid Parental Leave?

An employee in Cairns who has taken up to 12 months of parental leave can request an extension of extra 12 months; making it a total of 24 months leave. However, it's important to note that this may not be applicable to members of an employee couple since one member may have already taken 12 months of leave.

The request (which must be in writing) for an extension must be presented to the employer at least four weeks before the end of employee's initial period of parental leave. And it's recommended for the employer to respond within 21 days of receipt. The written response would state if they accept or refuse the request.

These are some of the most important things you need to know about parental leave and its entitlements in Australia. Of course, there are still quite a few details out there, but this article should be a great start! Don't hesitate to contact Preston Law in Cairns if you have any questions — we'll be incredibly happy to help.

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