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Australia has had a Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme since 2011. Before significant PPL changes come into effect in March 2023, let’s take a look at the current scheme.

What is the purpose of PPL?

PPL aims to:

  • Provide financial support for parents to take time off from paid work to look after a newborn or recently adopted child
  • Encourage the participation of women in the workforce
  • Help employers keep staff
  • Promote the health and wellbeing of parents and children

What PPL is available under the existing scheme?

The existing PPL scheme allows for the following government support:

  • Parental Leave Pay for up to 18 weeks (based on the national minimum wage), which can be used at the same time as employer-paid leave; and

  • Dad and Partner Pay for up to two weeks (based on the national minimum wage), which can only be used when the dad or partner is on unpaid leave.

There are eligibility criteria to satisfy, including:

  • Income testing (in 2022, the taxable income threshold is $151,350)

  • Work commitments

  • Meeting residency requirements

PPL must be used within two years of the child’s birth or adoption.

What should I do if my employee requests parental leave?

If your employee requests parental leave, you must ensure they’re eligible. We recommend that you check your organisation’s leave policies and the minimum entitlements under the National Employment Standards to make sure they meet requirements such as:

  • Employee status (permanent or long-term regular casual employee)

  • Notice requirements (for example, ten weeks’ notice of intention to take leave)

  • Eligibility for employer-funded parental leave (if applicable)

If necessary, ask for clarification from your employee about how much parental leave they’re seeking and if they intend to take any other paid leave. Also, clarify when each form of leave should commence and whether any of it will be taken simultaneously.

When assessing a leave request and preparing for parental leave, consider the following questions:

  1. Has the employee given ten weeks’ written notice of intention to take leave, including start and finish dates?

  2. Has the employee given at least four weeks’ notice confirming leave dates?

  3. If necessary, have you requested a medical certificate confirming the employee’s expected due date or a declaration of the expected adoption date?

  4. Have you considered using a replacement employee to cover the leave period? Have you notified the leaving employee? Have you confirmed with the replacement employee that the position is temporary?

  5. Have you given written confirmation to the leaving employee about:
    a. Dates of leave
    b. Any required modifications to their duties or environment until they take leave (or when they return)
    c. Their right to return to their job
    d. A replacement employee temporarily performing the job until their return

  6. Have you confirmed the employee’s return to work intentions at least four weeks before they’re due to return?

  7. Have you checked whether the employee needs to modify duties or work environment when returning to work?

  8. Have you considered whether the employee may need additional training or induction to settle back into work?

If it’s likely that the employee’s job will become redundant due to operational requirements or restructuring, contact us for advice as soon as possible.

If the employee asks to extend their leave, you must respond within 21 days. If you need to consider operational requirements before responding to this request, we recommend that you get in touch.

Contact us for more information about the changes to the paid parental leave scheme in Australia.

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