By Andrew Hobbs
WHILE Federal Parliament only last week passed legislation allowing people of the same sex to marry – the right of Australia’s LGBTIQ couples to paid parental leave is much better established. (What LGBTIQ stands for is explained in the following article).
The Fair Work Act 2009 allows national system employees to access 12 months of unpaid parental leave after the birth of their own or their partner’s child, or their adoption of a child.
Typically, a worker must provide their employer with 10 weeks’ notice for the unpaid leave. This notice must be given in writing and state how much leave they want to take, including the starting and finishing dates, and confirm the preferred dates at least four weeks before the leave is due to start.
If it is not possible to give 10 weeks’ notice, then the worker must provide as much notice as is possible.
PPL and DAPP
The Department of Human Services also recommends that any employee planning to access the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave (PPL) or Dad and Partner Pay (DAPP) schemes discuss it with their employer at least 10 weeks before the child’s due date or date of adoption.
Aside from arranging the leave, the discussion will also need to cover which partner will be the primary carer of the child.
The primary carer of any child born or adopted is entitled to 18 weeks of leave at the national minimum wage under the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Scheme, regardless of their gender.
An employee can start their claim for Paid Parental Leave up to 3 months before their child’s expected date of birth or adoption.
If that primary carer returns to work before receiving all of their PPL benefits, they may be able to transfer the unused part of that leave to another primary carer – typically, their partner.
The scheme known as Dad and Partner Pay (DAPP) was introduced on 1 January 2013 – and, regardless of gender, is open to the partner of the birth mother, biological father or adopting parent of a child.
The DAPP allows fathers and partners of people with newly born or adopted children to receive up to 2 weeks’ wages from the Government at the federal minimum wage rate.
To be eligible for either scheme, the person must have worked for at least 10 of the 13 months before they applied for the leave, and have worked at least 330 hours in that 10-month period, with no more than an 8 weeks’ gap between 2 consecutive working days.
If both members of a couple are employed under the national system, they may choose to take concurrent leave, which entitles them to eight weeks of parental leave concurrently at any time from the date of birth or adoption.
This can be taken in one 8-week block, or in multiple blocks of no less than 2 weeks each, and can be taken at any time during the period of leave taken by the other member of the employee couple.