What is parental leave?
Parental leave is an entitlement to a period of leave if you or your partner are having or adopting a child.
What am I entitled to?
If you have been working for the same employer for at least 12 months continuously, (which may be in different facilities owned by the same employer e.g. public sector, Healthscope) you are entitled to 52 weeks unpaid parental leave in connection with the birth or adoption of a child, if you are the primary carer. There are lesser periods if you are not the primary care giver. Full-time, part-time and ‘eligible casual employees’ are entitled to apply for parental leave.
What if it is my partner who is having the child?
The 52 weeks may be shared, but is available to only one parent at a time. Both parents (primary carers) are able to take one week together at the time of the birth, or three weeks together at the placement of an adopted child. This may vary according to the clause in your enterprise agreement. Check your agreement on the Member Portal.
Do I get paid?
Only if your workplace agreement says so. In the public sector, and some private acute hospitals, you are entitled to ten weeks paid maternity or adoption leave. Some aged care agreements also have provision for paid leave. You can also use any paid leave owing to you as part of your parental leave, provided the total time off does not extend beyond 52 weeks. Check your enterprise agreement agreement on the Member Portal as eligibility requirements differ between employers.
In addition to above, the Paid Parental Leave Act (2010) allows for primary carers to receive the federal minimum wage for 18 weeks paid for by the Australian Government. To be eligible, you must have:
- been engaged in paid work continuously for at least 10 out of the 13 months prior to birth or adoption; and
- worked at least 330 hours in that 10 month period
- you cannot have more than an eight-week gap between each work day.
In addition, eligible working dads and partners, including same sex and adopting parents, are able to receive two-weeks government funded pay through 'Dad and Partner Pay' after having a baby or adopting a child.
Want more information about Australian Government parental leave pay?
What do I have to do to apply for maternity leave?
For maternity leave, you must notify your employer at least ten weeks prior to the anticipated commencement of leave with your written application accompanied by a letter from your registered treating physician or midwife confirming your pregnancy and the expected date of commencing maternity leave. You must notify your employer of the exact date and period of leave being applied for, at least four weeks prior to commencing the leave.
When can I take the maternity leave?
When you choose, provided you are fit to work before and after the period of leave. An employer can require a medical certificate in the last six weeks of pregnancy or if you return to work within six weeks after the birth of the child, stating you are fit to work normal duties.
After taking parental leave can I return to work on reduced shifts?
Your employer must consider a formal request to return from parental leave on reduced shifts. An employee can request a change in their working arrangements from their employer if they require flexibility because they: are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is of school age or younger. The request should be made as soon as possible.
Can my job change while I am on parental leave?
Generally an employer must keep your job open for you. Your employer must communicate any significant changes that occur during your period of parental leave affecting the status of your position. Where your position no longer exists but there are other positions available for which you are qualified and able, you are entitled to a position comparable in status and pay to that of your former position.
Is there anything I must do while on parental leave?
You must advise your employer of any proposed change in the duration of parental leave or if you wish to return to work on reduced shifts. You must also confirm with your employer your intention to return to work at least four weeks prior to finishing your leave.
Can I change the period of parental leave?
You may request to extend the unpaid leave for a further period of up to 12 months. This request requires employer approval. The employer may refuse requests on reasonable business grounds.
Still want to know more? Read our booklet 'Parental leave and returning to work: a guide for ANMF members'
What happens to my ANMF membership while I am on parental leave?
ANMF’s Primary Carer Leave membership provides you with a reduced rate membership for the duration of your parental leave.
Notify us of your planned parental leave dates and we will commence your PCL membership when you begin leave.
Provided you were a fully financial member at the time you took parental leave, ANMF remains available to assist you with any work-related issues which arise during your leave. This includes disputes over workplace change or return to work arrangements, requests to extend or vary your leave arrangements, or any issues that arise from ‘keeping in touch days’. It also ensures you are covered for professional indemnity insurance during keeping in touch days and you are entitled to annual CPD Portal credit.
Be sure to notify us of any change to your dates and ensure you reconfirm your weekly hours before returning to work so that we can ensure that your membership level is correct.
Primary carer leave members are also eligible to vote in Branch Council elections. You can request a primary carer leave membership via the Member Portal.