Employees are entitled to maternity, paternity and adoption leave and to work part–time in connection with the birth or adoption of a child.
An employee includes full-time, part-time, permanent, fixed-term and ‘eligible casuals.’
After twelve months’ continuous service an employee is entitled to 16 consecutive weeks of paid maternity leave and up to a further 38 weeks’ unpaid (“parental”) leave to form the 52-week parental leave entitlement.
An employee is entitled to 3 weeks of paid Partner Leave to be taken at the time of the birth, or later if it is to be the primary care giver. An additional 2 weeks of accrued long service leave, recreation leave or leave without pay may be accessed too.
An employee is eligible without resuming duty, for subsequent periods of parental leave, i.e. you do not need to complete another 12 months of service.
Notice periods and requirements
The pregnant employee must provide written notice to her employer of the dates and duration of maternity leave. In particular, she must provide:
- a certificate from a registered medical practitioner stating that she is pregnant. This must be done at least 10 weeks before the expected date of birth.
- Written notice of the dates and duration of maternity leave. This must be done at least four weeks before the start of the intended leave.
- Particulars of any period of paternity leave sought by her spouse/partner.
Leaving and returning
Maternity leave can start within six weeks of the expected date of birth and the mother can return within six weeks of the birth but must provide a medical certificate stating that she is fit to return.
What will I get paid?
Your rate of pay during maternity leave is based on either the average hours worked over the previous 12 months or the actual hours of work at time of commencing maternity leave (whichever is greater).
You may also be able to access the Federal Government Paid Parental Leave scheme. Your Paid Parental Leave period is the time you take off work and are paid Parental Leave Pay. It can be up to 18 weeks at a time. To be eligible for Parental Leave Pay you need to:
- be the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child. The primary carer is the person who most meets the child’s physical needs. This is usually the birth mother of a newborn or the initial primary carer of an adopted child. You are considered to be the primary carer from birth, even if your child is in hospital,
- have met the Paid Parental Leave work test1,
- meet residence requirements from the date the child enters your care until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period,
- have received an individual adjusted taxable income2 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, and
- be on leave or not working from when you become the child’s primary carer until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period.
For more information: http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/parental-leave-pay
When things don’t go well…
Should the ‘mother to be’ suffer an illness related to her pregnancy, or is required to undergo a pregnancy related medical procedure, and has not accrued paid personal leave, unpaid special maternity leave may be granted if a registered medical practitioner certifies it as necessary.
In the sad event that a baby is still born after 20 weeks, the full 14 weeks of maternity leave can be accessed.
Transfer to a safe job
The pregnant employee is to be transferred to a ‘safe job’ until maternity leave starts if a medical practitioner certifies that pregnancy-related illness or risks, or hazards connected with work make it inadvisable for her to continue in her present role. However, where the employer deems a transfer impracticable, then parental leave may be taken, if certified necessary by a medical practitioner.
Returning to work
On returning to work, employees can work part-time up until the child reaches school age. The employer may refuse the request to return part-time on grounds such as cost, lack of suitable replacement staff, loss of efficiency and effectiveness or the specialised nature of the work.
The employee needs to give four weeks’ notice of intention to return to work, and eight weeks if returning part-time.
With limited exceptions, the returning employee is entitled to return to normal duties consistent with those carried out before the maternity leave. This does not necessarily mean the same workplace she was at prior to taking the leave.
The employer is to inform the returning employee of any significant changes in the workplace and discuss the potential effect of any changes on the status or responsibility of the employee.
What leave can I take to care for other children?
Partners who may be required to provide care and support for other children, whilst the partner is on maternity leave they can utilize other paid leave such as annual leave, long service leave or request LWOP.