HR Tips & Answers

Don’t forget the changes to Parental Leave from 1 July 2023!

On 22nd June 2023, the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Bill 2023 (‘the Bill’) passed both Houses of Parliament bringing about major changes to Parental Leave under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (‘the Act’).

The Act will now align with the amendments to the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 which was amended earlier in 2023.

You should be aware of these changes as they will impact all parental leave that is to be taken from 1st July 2023.

The major changes in the Bill include:

  • allowing both parents to commence parental leave, at any time in the 24 months following the birth or placement of their child;
  • increasing the number of flexible parental leave days parents can take from 30 days up to 100 days over a 24-month period;
  • enabling pregnant employees to access some of the 100 days flexible entitlement up to six weeks before the expected date of birth of their child;
  • removing restrictions that prevent employees who are married or in a de facto relationship from taking more than 8 weeks of unpaid parental leave at the same time;
  • allowing both parents to take up to 12 months’ unpaid parental leave over 24 months, regardless of the amount of leave the other parent takes; and
  • allowing both parents to request an extension of up to an additional 12 months without impacting the amount of leave available to the other parent.

 

Specific changes noted in the new legislation are:

Employee Couples  

The provisions relating to ‘employee couples’ have been removed.

This means that any employee couples in your business (as long as they are eligible) can take up to 12 months’ unpaid parental leave (UPL) and request a further additional 12 months of UPL irrespective of how much leave their spouse or partner takes; up to a total of 24 months for each partner in the employee couple.

An ‘employee couple’ is defined as 2 national system ( ie. employed under the NES only) employees who are a spouse or de facto partner of each other.

Concurrent Parental Leave 

Previously employee couples could only take leave concurrently for a maximum of 8 weeks and had constraints on how the leave could be taken. The Bill now provides that both partners in an employee couple situation can take UPL concurrently and without limitation.  This means that both employees can take leave at the same time as part of their individual 24-month UPL entitlement.

Flexible Unpaid Parental Leave  

Since November 2020 employees had been able to take up to 30 days flexible UPL (in addition to 10 ‘keeping in touch’ days) from the date of birth or placement.  As from 1st July 2023 this will increase to 100 days of flexible UPL.

Given that the Government’s plan is to increase paid parental leave entitlements to 26 weeks, the door is open for the Fair Work Regulations to propose a higher number of flexible days in the future to align with such an increase.

A pregnant employee can also now take their flexible UPL during the period starting 6 weeks before the expected date of birth of their child.  Any flexible UPL accessed would be deducted from the employee’s overall entitlement to 100 days of flexible UPL.

Period of Leave    

Each parent will be able to access 12 months’ UPL with the option to extend for another 12 months.

Employees are still required to have 12 months’ service prior to being eligible to take UPL. There has been some amendment to the way in which the 12 months’ service is determined, the relevant date will now be:

  • For birth-related leave starting before the birth of the child or unpaid special parental leave – the expected date of birth of the child; or
  • In any other case – the date on which the employee’s period of leave is to start, which can be anytime within the first 24 months of the child’s birth/adoption.

It is important that you review your Parental Leave policies and practices as a priority to ensure they comply with the changes that commence from 1st July 2023.

As always compliance and best practice is your business’s best protection!

If you need assistance to get your policies and procedures up to date please don’t hesitate to contact Leisa and the WorkBetter team on 02 6009 1000.  We’re always here to help

Published: Friday, June 30th, 2023
Share:

Apply Now

[apptivo_job_applicantform name="jaform"]