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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.

IMPORTANT CHANGES: The work test for Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner pay is changing. If your baby’s birth or adoption is on or after January 1, 2020, these changes could affect you. As of January 1, the gap you’re able to have between two working days will increase from 8 weeks to 12 weeks. Also, if you’ve had to stop work because of a workplace hazard (and you fail to meet the work test because of this) your Work Test period will end the day you stop work (rather than the expected due date of your baby.

The scheme provides eligible parents with up to 18 weeks’ of Parental Leave Pay at the National Minimum Wage. The amount is currently $740.60 a week before tax (correct as of November 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 (This will increase to 12 weeks from January 1 — see note above). 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.
  • meet residency rules and be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, and generally have served a two-year waiting period if you’re a newly arrived migrant

How much money will you receive in Parental Leave Pay?

Parental Leave Pay is currently $740.60 a week before tax for a maximum of 18 weeks (amount correct as of November 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 $560 (correct as of November 2019).

The Newborn Supplement amount depends on your income and how many children you have. The maximum amount is $1,679.86 for your first child or a maximum of $560.56 for subsequent children (amounts correct as of November 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 (this will change to 12 weeks from January 1, 2020 — see note at top of this page)
  • 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 $740.60 a week before tax (correct as of November 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.

 

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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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1,109 comments so far -

  1. Hi, I’m part time worker and I have done all work test related to paid parental leave payment. Do you know how much am I getting after tax?

    • Hi Sara21!

      Thanks for your question and congrats on your pregnancy.

      The amount you’ll receive after tax does vary according to your individual circumstances.

      If you receive your Parental Leave Pay through your employer they will take out the tax at your usual rate and include any other items that they normally do (any salary sacrifice etc).

      If you receive your Parental Leave Pay straight from the government they will tax you at the rate of 15%. The current rate of pay is $740.60 a week. That works out to be about $111 a week taken out for tax. So you’d get a bit less than $630 each week if you receive it from the government.

      Hope this helps!

      Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  2. Hi. I normally work 5 days a week. If I reduce my days to 4 I will still earn at least the minimum wage. Will I then be entitled to the full parental leave payment?

  3. Hi, really helpful article. Am I still eligible if I start a different job whilst pregnant? I’ve been working for the past 4 months already but start a new job tomorrow and I just found out I’m pregnant today! So I imagine I’ll be working about 7 months at this new job. Does my 4 months at my old job and 7 months at new job all count as the 10 out of 13 months of employment even though they are different employees?

    • Hi Sasha!

      Thanks for reading and congrats on your pregnancy. Very exciting. And congrats on your new job also.

      The good news is that having two (or more) jobs doesn’t affect your eligibility for the Parental Leave Pay ‘work test’. It only matters that you work for that specific amount of time. It doesn’t matter where you work or how many jobs you have.

      There is one thing to be mindful of, however. Because you have started a new job and will only be working there for about 7 months before your baby is born, you won’t be entitled to take maternity leave from that job. This isn’t a payment but is the right to take 12 months of time off work and be able to return to that same job at the end of the 12 month period. To be entitled to this leave you must have worked for your employer for 12 months. It’s not so cut and dry though and your employer can still choose to offer you this leave if they want to. But they’re under no obligation to do so.

      It’s definitely worth having a conversation with them about this if you are hoping or intending to return to this job after you have your baby.

      I hope this makes sense. Please feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

      Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  4. Hi all,

    I need to get information about parental leave policy if a person is working on part time permanent position with two employer. As filling up the centrelink claim form there is now way i can fill up details of both of the employers. So , the parental leave pay would be only from one employer. If that so , what about the other employer that a person works on part time permanent basis.

    • Hi Sohail!

      Thanks for your question and congrats on your pregnancy.

      I found this information on the paper form that people fill out:

      If you have more than one current employer, complete the details for the one you have been employed with for 12 months or more. If you have
      been with more than one employer for 12 months or more, then choose the one you would prefer to provide your Parental Leave Pay.

      I hope this helps somewhat. Please feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

      Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  5. Hi there. I’ve just returned from previous maternity leave and so been working 6 months and about to go on leave again. Am I entitled to 18 weeks?

    • Hi there!

      Thanks for reading and congrats on your pregnancy.

      If you’re applying for the government’s Parental Leave Pay you’ll need to meet the work test again. That means you’ll need to have worked for at least 10 months out of the 13 months before your baby estimated due date.

      However past periods of Parental Leave Pay DOES count towards your work test.

      So I can’t comment without knowing more specific dates etc – but if your last Parental Leave Pay falls within the 10 months you can count that as well.

      Also, related somewhat (but not to do with the Government’s Parental Leave Pay) you don’t have to work for another 12 months to be entitled to take maternity leave (unpaid – 12 months leave) from your workplace.

      I hope this helps somewhat. Please feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

      Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  6. Is it actually legal to reduce the amount of parental leave paid by a company to absorb the government payment? If I took leave without pay I would receive the gov payment, but not if I get paid by my employer at the same time. How is that allowed?

    • Hi Mel!

      Thanks for reading and thanks for your question.

      I am not sure if this is illegal but it is definitely not ‘best practice’.

      I found this on Fair Work Australia’s website and I suggest you give them a call to clarify the legality of this and to see where you stand.

      The Australian Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme is not intended to replace existing entitlements to employer-funded paid parental leave. Having an existing entitlement to employer-funded paid parental leave does not affect an employee’s potential eligibility for the Australian Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme. If an employer currently provides paid parental leave through an industrial agreement, they can’t withdraw the entitlement for the life of the agreement.

      Fair Work Australia’s number is 13 13 94 (8am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday except for public holidays).

      Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  7. hello, i’m not sure if you can help but thought i’d give it a go.

    My paid parental leave from centerlink is ending on the 1st sept, I have contacted my work to see if i can go back to work on the 2nd sept, I gave them this information last week, so giving them 6 weeks notice.
    I’m still yet to hear back on when I can go back to work but I was asked what date did I put on my maternity leave form on when they expected me to go back to work, I put jan 2020… I didn’t really think at the time this could affect me, can they stop me from going back to work because I put that date down on a form?
    they haven’t hired anyone as a replacement for me but they have hired extra staff on full time employment, I’m worried they don’t need me at the moment and might try delay me coming back? what are my rights here?
    thank you, Ella

    • Hi Ella!

      Thanks for reading and congrats on your new baby.

      From what I’ve read, if you request to go back early you can only do so if they agree.

      I found this on the Fair Work Australia website:

      An employee on unpaid parental leave can shorten their leave, if their employer agrees. If the employer doesn’t agree, then the employee has to return to work on the planned date.

      No notice period is required when an employee and employer agree to the new return date.

      I recommend giving Fair Work Australia a call to determine what are your rights exactly in this circumstance.

      Fair Work Australia’s number is 13 13 94 (8am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday except for public holidays).

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

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  8. I just wanted to share my frustration with Australian government and the new rules. It will be good advice for who ever just became Permanent Resident, like us, and are planning to have a baby.
    We arrived in Australia 7 years ago and been working as Full time for the last 4 years. My wife was on a Sponsorship (457 visa) which allowed us to apply for a Permanent Residency. As soon as we had applied for the Visa, September last year, we started trying to get pregnant which happened straight away. Now, after 9 months and with the baby coming anytime time soon and already been permanent residents, we claimed our Maternal and paternal leaves and got them rejected. After calling centrelink to understand why it was rejected, they told us about the new rules that started January this year. There is a waiting period of 2 years for new residents that need any family benefits from the government. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been living in Australia for the last 7 years, been working full time for 4 years and paying huge amount of tax, we are not eligible to any family help or benefits, only Family Tax benefit part B, which is around $150 fortnight. Considering how expensive is to live in Sydney and the amount of tax that we pay and not been able to get maternal leave is just so frustrating. So this is good heads up for who just arrived or became resident after many years like us, and planning on having a baby, save as much money as you can because the government won’t look after you!

    • Hi Eddie. Thanks for reading and sharing your story with us. Congrats on the upcoming arrival.

      Sorry to hear that you’re in this situation though. How frustrating to find this out so late. Hopefully by sharing your experience here others may learn about this new rule. I will look into it as well and update this article accordingly.

      All the best for your new baby! Exciting times ahead!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

  9. Dear Bubhub

    I apologise in advance for the long post, but my wife and I’s situation is complex, so I wanted to provide the full context.

    My wife and I are expecting our second child at the end of September via elective caesarean. I work full-time and my wife works on a casual contract (usually 3 days per week). As part of my wife’s employment terms she has no fixed hours, no fixed wage and no fixed hourly rate, she gets paid a percentage commission for the work she bills. She also does not have access to any form of employer paid leave (annual leave, sick/carers leave, parental leave, …) so will be taking unpaid leave before and after the birth. With our first child my wife struggled through 48+ hours of labour and induction before needing to have an emergency caesarean, the whole process of which was quite physically and emotionally traumatic. Our obstetrician said that she may be able to have a VBAC, but there is a high chance that she will have the same problems which prevented a natural birth for our first child. Based on this information we have chosen the elective caesarean route this time around.

    Towards the end of last year my employer released an updated corporate parental leave policy which includes recognition of either parent as primary carer (rather than just mothers) as part of the company’s cultural drive to promote an inclusive and diverse work environment. This HR policy was developed by the company’s corporate HR team and rolled-out to sites, but the application of it is determined by individual site’s HR departments who may have differing opinions and motivations. There is undoubtedly a degree of stigma attached to fathers taking parental leave in general and I feel that same sentiment is held by some of my colleagues (and possibly the site HR department), this will take time to change but the new policy is a step in the right direction.

    The policy says that “Eligible Company Employees, are entitled to be paid for the first 3 months of their parental leave at the employee’s Total Remuneration rate”, and that this “paid component of parental leave can only be accessed if the spouse or de facto partner of the Eligible Company Employee is not receiving a paid parental leave benefit from the Company or another employer”.

    Based on this I informed site HR and my Supervisor of my desire to apply for 3 months paid parental leave because my wife will not be receiving paid parental leave from her employer. I also complied with site HR’s request that I confirm by statutory declaration that I intend to have responsibility for the care of the child throughout the period of that leave. Following this they also quoted a line in the policy that says “Eligible Company Employees who do not have the primary care responsibility of the child are entitled to 1 week’s paid partner leave at their Total Remuneration Rate” and saying that is all I am entitled to unless I am the primary carer. They requested a doctor’s certificate stating that I will be the primary carer of the child initially while my wife recovers from the surgery, which they said is usually 6-8 weeks following caesarean birth. This is not unreasonable and reflects the fact that my wife will be physically unable to perform all the duties required to be the primary carer until her body has sufficiently healed. From researching online, I see this relates to similar case law regarding 2 male BHP employees who applied for primary carer’s leave to care for their newborns after caesarean births, where the judge deemed a stat dec alone insufficient even if that was all that was required by their company’s policy.

    My wife and I are still a little confused about whether the father can elect to be the primary carer, or more specifically why they can’t? In the eyes of the law is the mother the primary carer by default unless there are exceptional circumstances? On the Department of Human Services website, it says the mother can transfer some or all of their government Parental Leave Pay to a second carer if they return to work or “are no longer the primary carer”. Circumstances that make somebody no longer the primary carer are not defined in my employer’s parental leave policy. Food for thought is that if the shoe were on the other foot, nobody would bat an eyelid at the mother claiming employer paid parental leave and the father concurrently taking unpaid leave (or annual leave) to support his wife, share the duties of caring for their newborn and enjoy the special time with his family, why can the roles not be justifiably reversed in this situation?

    The following line in my company’s policy also muddies the water a little, and I’m not exactly sure how to interpret it considering HR’s response to my application so far, “if the Eligible Company Employee’s spouse or de facto partner is not taking any parental leave in respect of the birth, adoption or surrogacy of the child (for example, the spouse of de facto partner does not work), the parental leave must commence at the date of birth, adoption or surrogacy of the child and must be taken in a single continuous period.” The “example” indicates that I would be eligible to take parental leave even if my wife didn’t work, which HR could potentially argue only applies to unpaid leave, although if that is the case it seems odd because in practice I doubt many families would be able to afford for neither parent to be receiving income for an extended period. Another confusing line in the policy states that “if the Eligible Company Employee’s spouse or de facto partner is taking parental leave in respect of the birth, adoption or surrogacy of the child (regardless of whether the employee is employed by the Company or another employer), an Eligible Company Employee can take up to 8 weeks of their parental leave entitlement while the spouse or de facto partner is also taking parental leave”. This again seems a touch contradictory to other elements of the policy and my site HR’s reluctance to approve my application for 3 months paid parental leave, but could likewise be interpreted as only applying to unpaid parental leave.

    We do not object to providing the doctor’s certificate stating that I will be the primary carer for the first 8 weeks following my wife’s caesarean birth, but still would prefer to apply to take the full 3 months employer paid parental leave if I am eligible to do so under the policy. If the mother is by default the primary carer baring exceptional circumstances then we have a couple of options that may legitimately classify my wife as not the primary carer, which we would appreciate a second opinion on:

    • My wife returns to work after 8 weeks, then stops work again after I return to work to take over as primary carer. Her work will however still be on a casual basis, as per her current employment terms. Whether this is 1 day a week or 3 days a week is partly dependent upon her employer needing her services, although we don’t foresee that being an issue. Nevertheless, they could only have work for her for a few hours per week or even just available “on-call” for emergencies or covering peaks in workload. Her employer also talked about using some of this period as an opportune time to close-up and complete some refurbishment works, which would effectively make it impossible to work even if she made herself available to.

    • My wife is also studying a Graduate Diploma part-time via distance delivery, essentially completing assignments and research/study at her convenience scheduled around work and home life commitments. Would her taking time to focus on completing outstanding the tasks required to finish her Graduate Diploma before returning to work be grounds to defer the primary carer responsibilities to me?

    • Hi Coops!

      Thanks for reading and congrats on your upcoming arrival!

      That certainly does sound like a confusing policy and I’m afraid I don’t know a great deal about company-paid parental leave as companies create their own different policies, and many offer none at all.

      I’m trying to get my head around your situation and your question but I have a question …

      You didn’t say that your wife was eligible for the Government’s Parental leave Pay. Have you already looked into this and discovered that she isn’t? If she’s been working she should meet the work test.

      You might also be able to access the government’s Dad and Partner Pay to receive another two weeks of pay (at minimum wage).

      Let me know! Thanks!

      • Thanks very much for your time in trying to get your head around our situation! It’s quiet complex and we haven’t been able to find clear answers to some of our questions due to the uncommon nature of our circumstances.

        We haven’t been to Centrelink yet, as we are trying to sort things with my employer’s paid parental leave policy first, but my wife does meet the eligibility requirements for the government Parental Leave Pay: she works enough hours; earned under the $150k last next year; has worked for her employer for more than 12 months; and is a permanent resident. It’s just that the nature of her profession is such that she gets paid a cut of what she bills and only works if/when there is work (although it has it’s ups and downs it’s usually fairly consistent).

        I could access the government Dad and Partner pay but only if I am taking unpaid leave (not annual leave or employer paid parental leave), but with my wife receiving no income it wouldn’t be sustainable for me to only receive minimum wage, we would eat into what little savings we have in order to pay the mortgage, bills and living expenses.

        We do not have family that will be able to help out during the first few months after the birth, so my assistance in caring for our newborn (as well as my wife and first child) will be essential. If my wife claims the government PLP as Primary Carer we assume that logically I cannot concurrently be the Primary Carer with respect to my employer’s parental leave policy, but we will confirm this when we speak to Centrelink. I also don’t have enough annual leave to take instead in order to support my wife until we can have relatives stay with us to help out. This is why our preference is for me to claim the 3 months paid parental leave under my employer’s parental leave policy.

        We are mainly seeking guidance/clarity on clearer definitions/situations in which a mother can transfer her Primary Carer status to a father/partner, such that I can legitimately claim the 3 months paid parental leave under my employer’s policy as the Primary Carer. Is this something you have any experience with or incite into? Or, do you have any recommendations on who else to contact?

        Kind Regards
        Coops

        • Hi Coops!

          Thanks for getting back to me. I’d love to help you but I don’t have much insight into what is the specific reasons that a mother would cease to be the primary carer. I think you would be best to talk to Fair Work Australia. Their number is 13 13 94 (8am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday except for public holidays).

          I do know a bit about Parental Leave (that is the unpaid leave you’re entitled to). You ARE entitled to take at least 12 months of unpaid parental leave (if you’re the primary carer) and 8 weeks of unpaid leave AT THE SAME TIME as your wife if you’re both on leave (that’s where your employer got that bit from). You are also entitled to take your 12 months leave at the end of her 12 months leave. So technically if she returned to work after taking 12 months maternity leave, you are entitled to take 12 months leave as well afterwards (unpaid). What I don’t know is this: is your wife ‘technically’ on maternity leave from her job? I’m not sure. Does that make a difference? Again, I’m not sure. That is something to ask Fair Work Australia about.

          I also know that for the government’s Parental Leave Pay scheme they do assume that the mother is the first primary carer of the child. They do this because the Parental Leave Pay is designed not just so the baby has someone to care for them but also so the mother can afford to take time off work to recover from the birth. However, you’re right, it can be transferred if the mother goes back to work (or stops becoming the primary carer for another reason – although I’m not exactly sure of what they do and don’t consider a reason – is studying a reason? I don’t know).

          I hope it all works out for you and your family.

          Please feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

          Take care!

          — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

          • Thanks, I contacted the Fair Work Ombudsman, but they said workplace policies are outside the scope of their advice and recommended I seek advice from Community Legal Centres Queensland. I’ll try to pass on what eventually find out.

          • Oh, I didn’t know that. That’s good to know. I guess they’re just dealing with the entitlement to unpaid leave.

            I’m interested in knowing what you find out. It would be great if you could let me know. I hope you get the answer you’re hoping for!

  10. My daughter is due to have her 3rd baby in Oct and has just discovered that she is not entitled to maternity pay from the co as she has been there less than 3 yrs
    Is this allowed, having been under the impression it was 12 mths employment requirement?

    • Hi Mary,

      Thanks for your question and congrats on the upcoming new addition to your family.

      How disappointing however for your daughter to be told that she may not be able to receive paid leave from her employer. Three years is a long time.

      What I do know is that employers ARE required to offer at least 12 months maternity leave to employees who’ve worked with them for 12 months or more. HOWEVER this is an entitlement to unpaid leave (and the right to return to the same job etc on return). Many companies in Australia do not offer any paid leave at all and they’re not required to. It may be the case that even though your daughter’s employer is not being particularly generous, they’re within their rights to do so. But please check this out with Fair Work Australia to make sure. Their number is 13 13 94 (8am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday except for public holidays).

      None of this will impact on her ability to claim the government’s Parental Leave Pay however. If she’s eligible for that, she’ll still be able to receive that money regardless of her employer’s policies.

      Sorry I didn’t have better news, or could help more!

      Please feel free to ask more questions if you have them.

      Take care!

      — follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bubhub to stay in touch with all things pregnancy and parenting —

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