To ensure a smooth transition from work to receiving Parental Leave Pay, it is important for parents to clearly discuss their plans with their employer/s.
Begin the conversation early
It is a good idea to speak to your employer as soon as you can about your intention to take leave.
Your conversations will probably need to cover:
- What leave is available to you
- When to plan to start your leave and when you plan to return to work
- How you plan to manage your return to work
- What your post-leave role might be
It is important to communicate your needs and expectations with your employer.
Understanding your leave entitlements
If you've been with your employer for at least 12 months you're entitled to up to 12 months of unpaid leave (under the Fair Work Act 2009) following the birth or adoption of your baby.
This leave must be taken in a continuous period. Employees may take other kinds of paid leave at the same time, such as annual or long service leave, as well as employer-provided paid parental leave.
A request for unpaid parental leave must be made in writing to your employer at least 10 weeks before the intended start date of the leave - make sure you specify the intended start and end dates.
Your workplace may offer entitlements to complement these minimum entitlements (for example, some companies offer paid maternity leave).
And remember ... just because you are entitled to the government's Paid Parental Leave doesn't mean you are automatically entitled to take leave from your work (ie. if you work for 10 months before your baby is born you are eligible for the payment but your employer does not have to give you maternity leave, as you need to work for 12 months to be eligible). You can combine Parental Leave Pay with employer-provided leave entitlements such as annual leave, long service leave and existing employer-provided paid or unpaid parental leave schemes.
Right to request flexible working arrangements
Under the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009 eligible employees have the right to request flexible work arrangements, such as part-time or flexible hours, until their child is in school. Eligible employees who have a child with a disability have this right until their child is 18.
Employers can only refuse your request on reasonable business grounds.
Keep in touch with your work
If you return to work before the end of your Paid Parental Leave period, your Parental Leave Pay will stop. Under the Paid Parental Leave scheme you have the option, if you and your employer agree, to 'Keep in Touch' with your workplace without losing your Parental Leave Pay. Activities could include, but would not be limited to, attending a planning meeting or training course.
You can participate in workplace activities for up to 10 'Keeping in Touch' days from the time you become the primary carer of your child until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period, although this can't occur within the first two weeks of the birth of your child. You must be paid your usual wages or salary in addition to your Parental Leave Pay for the time you attend work. Keeping in Touch days do not extend your Paid Parental Leave period.
If you are self-employed, you'll be able to keep an eye on your business without being regarded as having returned to work. You'll be able to oversee the business' operations, and perform the occasional admin task.
Returning to work
Before your leave ends, you should arrange to meet your employer to discuss your return to work arrangements, such as your role, hours, and flexible working arrangements.
For more infor
You can lodge your claim for the Paid Parental Leave scheme up to three months before the expected date of birth or adoption of your child. For more information about the Paid Parental Leave scheme including eligibility and how to claim, visit www.familyassist.gov.au or call 13 6150.
For more information about workplace entitlements, the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009, discrimination or workplace best practice go to www.fairwork.gov.au or call the Fair Work Info line on 13 13 94.
Further information is available for parents and prospective parents on the Family Assistance Website or by calling FAO on 13 61 50. Employers can call FAO on 13 11 58.