Unpaid Parental Leave
From 1 July 2023, employees will have access to changed unpaid parental leave entitlements as part of the Federal government’s recent initiatives which aim to provide families with greater flexibility.
A summary of the recent changes can be found in the table below:
Impact on Employers
It is important for you to be aware of these changes to be able to adjust your policies or employee handbook and to respond to new requests and extensions to unpaid parental leave accordingly.
Please note, that if an employee wishes to extend their original unpaid parental leave, they must give at least 4 weeks’ notice in writing, before the end date of their original leave period, and the request must include the new leave end date.
As an employer, you must respond within 21 days, either agreeing; agreeing to a variation after discussion with the employee; or refusing the request. Please be mindful however, that you can only refuse a request if you have discussed a variation to the extension period with the employee but haven’t been able to reach an agreement AND if your refusal is on reasonable business grounds.
As part of the new legislation, employees have the right to lodge a dispute regarding a request for extended leave with the Fair Work Commission if:
- the employer refuses an employee’s request;
- the employer doesn’t provide a written response to a request within 21 days; or
- the employee and employer have been unsuccessful in trying to resolve the dispute at the workplace level.
We therefore highly recommend that you discuss the matter with one of our consultants at Allan Hall HR before refusing any request for an extension to unpaid parental leave.
Paid Parental Leave changes
Further changes have also been made from 1 July 2023 to the Government’s Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme, which provides eligible individuals with financial support for the birth or adoption of a child.
Under the previous PPL scheme, parents would need to apply separately (i.e. the primary caregiver could access up 18 weeks of financial support, and the partner or ‘secondary carer’ could access up to 2 weeks of support under what was referred to as ‘Dad and Partner Pay.’)
From 1 July, parents will be able to apply to this scheme together and may access up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave to use between them. The Government has indicated that the payment will continue to increase by 2 weeks each year until 1 July 2026 when it will reach 26 weeks.
Please note, it is up to the individual to apply for a PPL payment directly through Services Australia. You will not be able to apply for this benefit on the employee’s behalf. When an employee applies, their eligibility is determined by Services Australia. Eligibility is not determined by the employer.
Allan Hall HR has a team of experienced consultants to help answer any questions you may have regarding the Unpaid and Paid Parental Leave changes and how they should be applied to your unique business and employee circumstances.
We encourage you to reach out to us for further guidance by calling 1300 675 393 or emailing [email protected].