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Maternity leave entitlements in Australia

Maternity Leave Entitlements in Australia are determined by Federal Government regulations.  State Government laws and individual employer policies are also applicable and can vary widely so use this information as a starting point then ensure you confirm details for your specific situation.

A Paid Parental Leave Scheme was introduced in January 2011.  Read more in our Paid Parental Leave article.

Also visit our Maternity Leave Checklist for points to consider and questions to ask.

So, even though you may be eligible to receive the Paid Parental Leave payment from the Federal Government - that doesn't mean you're entitled to maternity leave from your employer.

A summary of the main eligibility requirements and conditions, as set by the Federal Government, are:
  • You must have worked continuously for employer for 12 months in full-time, part-time or in some cases casual employment
  • You can begin leave within 6 weeks of expected birth of child (i.e. in week 34 of your pregnancy)
  • You can take a maximum of 52 weeks of unpaid parental leave
  • You must advise your employer in writing as soon as practical when you expect to take leave, and no later than 4 weeks before the commencement of leave.
  • You must provide a medical certificate confirming your pregnancy no later than 10 weeks before the due date.
  • You must also provide a statutory declaration stating you will be the primary care giver and that you will not do anything inconsistent with their employment contract while on leave.
  • When returning to work you must give 4 weeks written notice (for leave longer than 4 weeks)
  • You can generally return to the same position you held before you went on maternity leave, or are entitled to another position similar in status and pay

State governments must comply with Federal regulations, however also provide their own specific information and requirements including documents required and the application process.  Some states have sites and information sheets dedicated to maternity leave and parental leave while others are more general employment sites and often refer back to federal law in regards to maternity leave.  

Employers must stick to federal and state government regulations but beyond this have their own policies in regard to maternity and paternity leave.  These can vary widely with some employers much more generous than others. 

  • Check your company policy and employment contract and discuss your personal situation with your employer.
  • Leave is generally unpaid unless your award, contract or company policy states otherwise
  • If you do not comply with some of the above regulations, such as being employed for 12 months first, you can still negotiate with your employer to potentially take maternity leave.   
  • You may be able to combine paid annual leave with unpaid maternity leave

See our Maternity Leave Checklist for more points to consider when planning your maternity leave.

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