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A guide to Parental Leave Pay in Australia – are you eligible?

Paid parental leave for newborn baby in parents handsIn Australia, eligible parents can access 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay following the birth or adoption of their baby.

The Paid Parental Leave scheme was introduced in 2011 to help working parents spend more time at home with a new baby in those vital early months. It is fully government-funded.

The scheme provides eligible parents with up to 18 weeks’ of Parental Leave Pay at the National Minimum Wage. The amount is currently $719.35 a week before tax (correct as of February 2019).

But how do you know if you’re eligible for Parental Leave Pay? How much do you need to work before your baby is born? Are casual and part-time workers eligible? And what about Dad and Partner Pay – will your partner be eligible to receive this as well?

Here we answer your questions about Parental Leave Pay in Australia …

Who is eligible for Parental Leave Pay?

To be eligible for Parental Leave Pay you must:

  • be the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child
  • have worked 10 of the 13 months before the birth or adoption of your child, and
    330 hours in that 10 month period (just more than one day a week) with no more than an 8-week gap between two consecutive working days. You may be eligible if you work full-time, part-time, casually, seasonally, as a contractor or for yourself.
  • meet the Paid Parental Leave income test — have received an individual adjusted taxable income of $150,000 or less in the financial year either before the date of birth or adoption, or the date you claim, whichever is earlier.
  • be on leave or not working from the time you become your child’s primary carer until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period.

How much money will you receive in Parental Leave Pay?

Parental Leave Pay is currently $719.35 a week before tax for a maximum of 18 weeks (amount correct as of February 2019).

It is a taxable payment – which means it may affect your existing family assistance entitlements, child support arrangements and tax obligations.

UPDATE: The so-called ‘double-dipping’ law was never passed — so you are able to access PPL even if your employer also offers paid maternity leave.

How is the Parental Leave Pay paid to you?

Parental Leave Pay can be paid to you by your employer or directly from the government.

Usually your employer will receive the amount from the government and then pay it to you in your usual pay cycle. This allows them to withhold your usual amount of tax and allow for any other payments or contributions that you regularly make (super, salary sacrifice etc).

In some circumstances, the government may opt to pay you directly — for example, if you’re no longer employed, if you’re self-employed or if you or your partner receive an income support payment from Centrelink.

You should begin talking to your employer about Parental Leave Pay at least 10 weeks before the date you intend to start your leave.

How much leave are you entitled to?

The scheme provides you with 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay but does not give you an entitlement to leave. You need to work out your maternity leave entitlements with your employer as it is based on how long you’ve worked for them and any company policies they have. Make sure you have this conversation with at least 10 weeks’ notice.

Can you do any work while you’re receiving Parental Leave Pay?

If you return to work before the end of your Paid Parental Leave period you are no longer eligible to receive the payment.

However, there is a provision in the scheme that allows you to keep in touch with your employer and ease your transition back into the workplace. The Keeping In Touch provision allows you to access 10 ‘keeping in touch’ days while you are receiving Parental Leave Pay. A paid work activity of ONE hour or more on a day counts as ONE Keeping in Touch day, and counts towards the 10-day limit.

Your employer is required to pay you for your time. But a Keeping in Touch day won’t affect your Parental Leave Pay payments and won’t extend your leave. It should be to:

  • refresh your skills
  • transition back to the workplace
  • become familiar with new or updated processes, or
  • be involved in planning discussions or meetings that may affect your role

If you run your own business you cannot return to actively running it — performing the daily operations — while you’re receiving Parental Leave Pay. You can, however, before basic occasional tasks to ensure it remains operational, this includes things such as organise a repair, pay an account, check on a delivery order, manage a dispute and maintain basic contact with clients.

What about if you don’t work – is there a payment for non-working mums?

The Baby Bonus was scrapped in 2014 but you may be eligible for the Newborn Upfront Payment and Newborn Supplement. This payment is available to parents who are eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A.

The Newborn Upfront Payment is a lump sum of $550 (correct as of February 2019).

The Newborn Supplement amount depends on your income and how many children you have. The maximum amount is $1,649.83 for your first child or a maximum of $550.55 for subsequent children (amounts correct as of February 2019). This amount is added to your Family Tax Benefit Part A as a supplement so you’ll receive fortnightly if that’s how you’ve chosen to receive Family Tax A.

Can your partner access the Dad and Partner Pay?

Eligible dads or partners can access two weeks of government-funded pay after the birth of a baby or adoption of a child.

To be eligible the dad or partner must:

  • provide care for a newborn or recently adopted child
  • meet an income test
  • have worked at least 10 of the 13 months before the date their Dad and Partner Pay period starts, and 330 hours in that 10 month period (just more than a day a week) with no more than an 8 week gap between two consecutive working days
  • be on unpaid leave or not working while getting the payment
  • make a claim within 52 weeks of the child’s birth or adoption

Dad and Partner Pay is $719.35 a week before tax (correct as of February 2019). The government pays the money into a nominated bank account after the child is born and the claim finalised.

Dad and Partner Pay does not change leave entitlements and your partner should check with their employer as to what leave they are entitled to.



This article is intended as a general guide to Parental Leave Pay and other family benefit payments in Australia. To check your eligibility based on your own circumstances contact the Department of Human Services.

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922 comments so far -

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for the guide it’s a lot clearer than others I’ve read. I’m still stuck and will definitely contact FairWork to learn my rights and confirm but your thoughts on my situation would be greatly appreciated, however high level…

    I’m my household’s primary income earner and the expecting mother. My wage is sustaining our lifestyle in every respect as my husband is studying a degree working casually. We earn less than $150Kpa and both appear to qualify for the leave entitlement. However, mnimum wage is less than half my income.

    I’ve asked my employer if I can work from home full time from (June) two months before my due date (August) working right up to my 40th week. I’ve asked to two weeks unpaid maternity leave and for a week’ paid holidays before returning to work full time from home for the rest of the year, (December).

    Ideally I’d like my husband to claim primary carers leave for the full 18 weeks from birth to support me returning to work full time from home so it’s feasible and our baby’s needs are met in the early months.

    I’d like to know – a) Can the baby’s father be transferred primary carer status if I need return to work full time? It is a ‘need’ 18 weeks on minimum income would cost me $23K I’d need to put on credit.

    b) Is returning to work full time, even if it was from home, impossible 3 weeks after birth? Is it unfair to my baby even though not doing so would set us back financially?

    c) I’d love to know if there’s other Mum’s who’ve been in the primary income earning role and who’ve had to make the difficult decision to return to work much earlier than the 18 weeks.

    Any feedback would be much appreciated.

  2. Hi, I am just trying to figure out this paid maternity leave system. I am not from Australia but will have my PR by the time baby gets here.
    I have just found out that I am pregnant and I have just started a casual job with the Government. If I stop work 1 month before my due date I will have worked for nearly 8 months. Enough hours according to the criteria but not enough months.
    What will happen in this situation? Does that mean I can´t get paid at all? Or is there another form of payment when you have worked less than the 10/13 months?

    Thank you very much.

    • Hi Miss N!

      Congrats on your pregnancy. And thanks for your question.

      If you’re not eligible for Parental Leave Pay then you may be eligible for the Newborn Upfront Payment and Supplement. You’ll be eligible for this if you’re eligible for Family Tax Benefits. How much you receive depends on your family income and number of children.

      If I were you I would still make absolute sure that you’re not eligible for Parental Leave Pay. Did you do any work before starting this government job, because it doesn’t matter if you’re not in the same job for the 10 months. There are other things that count as work too — such as working in a family business etc. Definitely still worth you investigating this just in case.

      I believe (but I’m not 100% sure) that you fill out the one form that assesses your eligibility for both Parental Leave Pay and Family Tax Benefits at the same time. So you’ll know if you aren’t eligible for Parental Leave Pay, whether you’re eligible for Family Tax Benefits (and the Newborn payments then, as well).

      Here’s another article you might find is a useful starting point for learning more about Family Tax Benefit and Newborn payments:

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help! Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  3. Hi,

    My workplace doesn’t offer paid maternity leave, however my husbands workplace can offer him 6 months paid leave if he is the primary carer. Would this affect what I would be entitled to from Centrelink? And would it affect how soon I’d have to go back to work? Its all so confusing!! Help!

    • Hi Carls! Yes it is all so confusing!

      I would advise that you first, look carefully at the policy from your husband’s workplace to see WHEN they will pay him (does it have to be straight after the baby is born?). Then have a chat to Fair Work Australia to clarify what you’re both entitled to in terms of parental leave and also Dept of Human Services (Centrelink) to make sure you’re eligible for Parental Leave Pay.

      Here’s what I’m thinking you MIGHT be able to do. Check all this with the above organisations to clarify based on your specific circumstances.

      You take your unpaid maternity leave from before the baby’s due date and apply for the government’s Parental Leave Pay to help fund this. If you’re eligible, this pay will not start until after the baby is born (as they need proof of birth forms to complete the application).

      You receive 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay — that is 4 months.

      At the 4 month mark your husband can start his maternity leave and you are able to have 8 weeks of maternity leave at the same time (you would no longer be receiving the Parental Leave Pay so would have to budget for not having a pay for two months).

      After that 8 weeks your husband could become the primary carer and you could return to work without this affecting your Parental Leave Pay (as it would have ended two months earlier).

      This is just one scenario that MIGHT be possible — something to think about.

      This is the link from Fair Work Australia – give examples of what leave you’re both entitled to (including the 8 weeks at the same time):

      Their number is 13 13 94 (8am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday). Or check out this page:

      I’m interested to know how it turns out so feel free to come back with further questions or an update.

      Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  4. Hello!

    Thanks for making it so much easier the figure out parental leave/maternity leave within Australia. I work 4 days a week from 8.30am – 4.30pm and just wanted to check my eligibility. I’m not sure which number to call as there are so many websites and phone numbers. Do you have a suggestion of who to call?

    Also, would you know by any chance, if I would get the whole $719.35 per week or does this figure reflect and depend on how many days you work a week?

    Thanks so much,


    • HI Tiff,

      Thanks! We’re very happy to have helped make this a little easier for you!

      I’ll answer your last question first. If you’re eligible you’ll receive the full amount. That’s the same amount for everyone, no matter how much you worked or earned prior to your baby being born. For some people it could be more than they earned before! And that’s OK.

      If you want to phone Human Services the number is 136 150. But they might direct you back to the website anyway. Maybe this link:

      If you work 4 days a week though you would certainly be on the right track. The basic eligibility requirements are:

      1. You must be Australian resident when baby is born
      2. You must have an individual income of less than $150,000 in the financial year before baby is born
      3. You must have worked for 10 months sometime within the 13 month before your due date.
      4. You must have worked for 330 hours in those 10 months (works out to be just more than one full day a week)

      That are the very basic criteria and if you meet those you should be eligible.

      Feel free to ask more questions though. I’m happy to help as much as I am able!

      All the best x

      — follow us on Facebook to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  5. Hi,

    We’re finding it really hard to navigate all the online forms to set up our Parental Leave Pay and anything else we may be eligible for.

    It looks like we are eligible but the online forms are not showing that.

    What is the best way to get everything set up and find out exactly what we can apply for based on our circumstances?

    We have been into Centrelink and they said to call human services. We called human services and they sent us to a website with online forms.

    Any suggestions/advice?

    • Hi Mrs A! That sounds like quite a runaround! So do you mean the actual application forms? Or do you mean the part of the site that gives you an estimate on what you might be eligible for?

      If you like you can give me some more information (when you’re due, how long you’ve been working, how many other children you have etc) and I can give you some general direction? What are the online forms saying? Why are they saying you’re not eligible?

      Let me know – I’m happy to help as much as I am able!

      All the best x

      — follow us on Facebook to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —



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