Unpaid Parental Leave: What time off are you entitled to

So you know that since 1 January 2011 there is now Parental Leave Pay provided by the Australian government if you are an eligible working parent. But it is only talking about pay; it does not entitle you to actual time off. Here are the facts about what unpaid parental leave you are entitled to as the primary carer of your baby.

Who can get it?

If you have been working continuously for your current employer, full-time or part-time, for 12 months or more prior to the birth or adoption of your baby you should be entitled to unpaid parental leave.

If you have been a casual employee you are also entitled if you have been with them on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months.

What do you get?

As the primary carer of your baby you are entitled up to 12 months unpaid parental leave.

After your 12 months leave you can request an additional 12 months unpaid parental leave on top. It isn’t a given that you will receive the extra 12 months, but your employer can only refuse to extend the leave on reasonable business grounds, such as:

  • A negative impact on the efficiency, productivity, customer service and finances of your employer
  • An inability to organise work among your workmates
  • An inability to recruit a replacement for you.

How do you get it?

You must give your employer written notice of the unpaid parental leave you intend to take at least 10 weeks prior to when it will start. There is a handy checklist on www.fairwork.gov.au that clearly tells you what to do when, including accessing Parental Leave Pay from the government.

Your employer is entitled to ask you to provide evidence that you need the leave, such as a medical certificate or statuatory declaration.

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