The Paid Parental Leave Scheme (the scheme) for Employees is a welfare measure on behalf of the Government of Australia to provide financial support to eligible working parents of newborn children or recently adopted ones.

The payment calculation is based on a standard Monday to Friday working week basis and from 1 July 2012, the effective rate of pay is $606.50 per week before deduction of tax. The benefit of the scheme is available up to 18 weeks when the working parent takes time off to take care of the child.

Eligibility for Application

The benefit of the scheme may be availed by employees who may be employed on full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contractual or self-employed basis. It is paid to the child’s primary care giver and the parent availing such benefit must be on paid or unpaid leave, not working from the time of becoming the primary care giver and continue in that role till the time of availing the Paid Parental Leave benefits.

The employer is under a responsibility to provide Parental Leave Pay to employees who have a newborn or recently adopted child, have worked with the employer for at least 10 of the 13 months before the expected date of birth or adoption, continue to be the employer’s employee for at least the end of the Paid Parental Leave period and received an individual adjusted taxable income of $150,000 or less in the financial year before the date of birth or adoption or the date of claim, whichever is earlier.

The employer needs to have an Australian Business Number and must register with Centrelink Business Online Services while opting for providing Parental Leave Pay. The employee can lodge the claim only after the employer completes these formalities.

Dad and Partner Pay

There is a general presumption that the primary care giver of the child is the mother. However, the Government provides for ‘Dad and Partner Pay’ for eligible working fathers or partners, in case of adopting parents or same sex couples and entitles them to get 2 weeks’ pay at the rate of National Minimum Wage standards.

How to Apply?

A working parent may apply for availing the benefit of the scheme up to 3 months before the expected date of child birth or adoption. The employee needs to indicate the date from which the Paid Parental Leave period is expected to start from. The payments cannot be started until adequate proof of child birth or adoption is provided. One can apply within 52 weeks after the child birth or adoption. The entire amount of entitlement should be paid within 52 weeks from the date of child birth or adoption.

Effects of the Pay on Existing Leave Entitlements

The Paid Parental Leave does not affect the employee’s existing leave entitlements. It should be noted that it is a welfare measure on part of the Government and thus complements the existing leave structure. The existing minimum entitlement for 12 months unpaid Parental Leave for long-term employees in the National Employment Standards under the Fair Work Act 2009 remains unchanged.

In addition, long-term employees can also request an additional 12 months unpaid leave. In this context, a long-term employee is defined as anyone who has worked for 12 months or more for the employer.

In case, the employer employs a couple who are entitled to unpaid Parental Leaves under the National Employment Standards, are also entitled to avail up to 3 weeks of unpaid leaves at the same time either immediately after the birth or adoption or, at any time during the first 6 weeks after their child birth or adoption. Similarly, the accrual of benefit of Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay will not result in any additional leave entitlements for the employee and the benefit should be availed within the mentioned time frame.

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