Having a child is a very exciting part of life and often parents would like some time off work to settle into life with the new addition to the family. Parental leave is now available for both mothers and fathers, partners and adoptive parents with the minimum entitlements to parents leave applying to all employees in Australia regardless of what award they are covered by.

Generally, parents are entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave with the option to extend this leave for another 12 months. Paid parental leave may also be available to certain employees under the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme for children born or adopted after 1 January 2011.

Under this scheme, eligible employees can receive up to 18 weeks of paid parental leave to be calculated at the rate of the National Minimum Wage. Fathers and partners (including same-sex partners) are also eligible for paid parental leave. This leave can be up to 2 weeks and is also paid at the rate of the National Minimum Wage.

Employer obligations

An employee will be eligible for paid parental leave if he/she satisfies the following requirements:

  • Has a newborn child or has recently adopted a child;
  • Has worked with the same employer for a minimum of 12 months before having this child;
  • The employee will continue to work with the employer for the duration of their paid parental leave; and
  • The employee is based in Australia and is expected to receive at least 8 weeks of parental leave pay.

If an employee does not meet these criteria then an employer is not obliged to provide paid parental leave. However, an employer can still arrange to pay an employee if they both agree to this and the employee registers with Centrelink.

Working while being pregnant

If you are pregnant while working, you are also entitled to certain benefits to cater to your specific needs at this time in your life. For example, sick leave may be used if you feel ill due to your pregnancy. Employees are also able to use their personal leave to care for you due to your pregnancy related sickness.

If the situation arises where it becomes unsafe for you to work during your pregnancy, your employer must transfer you to work in another capacity that will be safer for your condition. The same rates of pay, hours or work and other entitlements will still be applicable to you despite the change in your job role.

If there isn’t a job that is safe for you then you may be required by your employer to take “no safe job” leave on a paid basis. It is, however, illegal for your employer to terminate your employment on the basis of your pregnancy.


Parental leave is a great initiative that will allow parties to a relationship time to spend with new children, adjusting to life as a parent. If you would like further information on parental leave or general employment matters please see:




To speak with an employment lawyer regarding your rights to parental leave contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755.

Lachlan McKnight
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