Expecting or adopting? Legal minimums for maternity leave and parental entitlements in Australia

What are your maternity leave and parental entitlements in Australia?

Expecting or adopting? Legal minimums for maternity leave and parental entitlements in Australia

Congratulations! Whether you’re expecting or adopting, welcoming a baby into your life is an exciting and busy time for everyone involved. It’s a good time to learn your maternity leave and other parental leave entitlements in Australia .

As an expecting or adopting parent, it is crucial to learn your maternity rights and parental leave entitlements as early as possible.

On 1 January 2011, Australia introduced its first national Paid Parental Leave Scheme, which gives eligible parents taxpayer-funded pay when they take time off work to care for a newborn or recently adopted child.

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New parents can be entitled to Parental Leave Pay, as well as the Dad and Partner Pay. First, let’s discuss Australia’s Parental Leave Pay policy.

Who is entitled to receive a Parental Leave Pay?
Employees who:

  1. gave birth;
  2. whose spouse or de facto partner gave birth;
  3. who adopted a child under 16 years of age; or
  4. a person caring for a child under exceptional circumstances  

Are entitled to the Parental Leave Pay from the government, which is under the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme.

Additionally, to be able to receive a Parental Leave Pay, you must also meet or pass the following requirements:

  1. An income test, meaning an individual adjusted taxable income of $150,000 or less;
  2. A work test;
  3. Residence rules;
  4. Be an Australian citizen or permanent resident; and
  5. Be the primary carer of your child.

How much can you receive?
Parental Leave Pay is currently $740.60 per week before tax, based on the national minimum wage, according to Services Australia.

You can get your Parental Leave Pay directly or through your employer for up to 18 weeks. Note that your payment is considered as taxable income, so it’s necessary to include it on your tax returns.

How can you secure Paid Parental Leave?
The best time to apply for Parental Leave Pay is before your due date (for pregnant employees) or scheduled adoption date.

However, a start date (of the Parental Leave Pay entitlement period) nomination should be done no more than 34 weeks after the birth or adoption of the child to get the full 18 weeks of your Parental Leave Pay.

Any leave you use past your maximum of 18 weeks paid leave will be unpaid.

You can nominate the child’s date of birth or adoption as the start date. To do this, you need to submit your claim and provide proof of adoption within four weeks after the date of birth or adoption.

Getting your payment
Your first payment will include the payment on any liabilities you might be entitled to. To finalise your claim, you’ll need to confirm that you’ve registered the child’s birth or adoption date with your state or territory government, as well as provide proof of birth or adoption.

If the government is giving your Parental Leave Pay directly to you, you’ll receive your first payment 14 days after the start date, given that you’ve provided proof of birth and that your claim is officially finalised.

On the other hand, if your employer is paying you your Parental Leave Pay, you’ll get them on your next regular payday after your nominated start date. Funds will be given to your employer once your claim is finalised.

Dad and Partner Pay
Individuals qualified for the Dad and Partner Pay may receive payment for up to two weeks while they care for their new child.

The new parents eligible for this program must either be:

  1. The child’s biological father or adoptive parent;
  2. The partner of the birth mother or adoptive parent;
  3. A person caring for a child born of a surrogacy arrangement;
  4. The partner of the biological father; or
  5. The partner of a new carer, where arrangements are other than a foster-care or permanent-care arrangement.

Note that you are not qualified to receive Dad and Partner Pay if you’re the birth mother of the child.

Further, find out if your relationship is officially considered partnered by finding out more about relationship types.

What are the conditions needed to qualify for the Dad and Partner Pay?
Aside from the abovementioned eligibility requirements, it would be best if you also met all the following conditions:

  1. Must be an Australian citizen/permanent resident and must meet resident rules;
  2. Meet the income test (earn an individual adjusted taxable income of $150,000 or less for the financial year before your nominated start date);
  3. Meet the work test;
  4. Should not be working or taking paid leave/s the same period you get your pay; and
  5. Should be caring for the child on each day you get your pay.

How much can you receive?
Like the Parental Leave Pay, the Dad and Partner Pay gives $740.60 per week before tax, which can be received for up to two weeks, as stated by Services Australia

The payment will be compensated directly into your chosen bank account in one instalment.

How can you claim your Dad and Partner Pay?
You are recommended to nominate a start date of no more than 50 weeks after your child’s birth or adoption to get the two full weeks of pay.

Claiming can be from three months before the expected date of birth or adoption date until before the baby turns a year old. Before your payments can start, you will need to file a claim and provide supporting documents, including the proof of birth or adoption.

For more information, you may visit the Payment and Service Finder tool to check what payments and services you might be qualified for.

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