Paid Parental Leave: What Are My Obligations As An Employer?

If you’re an Australian employer then you have a range of obligations with respect to paid holidays and leave. Understanding these obligations is crucial if you want to run a successful business without placing yourself at risk, and the best way to do this is to speak with a commercial lawyer, such as Rowe Bristol, with experience in the industry.

As you can imagine, parental leave is something that pops up quite regularly. Unfortunately, a lot of employers don’t understand what their obligations are with respect to parental leave in Australia.

With this in mind, I’ve outlined the main parental leave laws in Australia to help you understand what you need to be doing:

What is paid parental leave?

Basically, paid parental leave involves a new mother or father being granted some time away from work to look after a new child. Usually, this happens in the days immediately after birth, and the length of time it goes for varies according to individual situations.

One thing that I should note is that paid parental leave applies to both mothers and fathers. If you’re planning on being a stay at home dad, then you might be eligible for extended parental leave.

Who Pays Parental Leave?

Basically, parental leave is either paid by the government or by an employer. This will vary according to things like industry and the type of contract an employee is on, but it’s worth understanding.

Australian Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme

Under the Australian Government Paid Parental Leave Scheme, employees who are the primary carers of newborn children are entitled to up to 18 weeks paid leave. This leave is paid by the Australian Government at the legal minimum wage, and it doesn’t necessarily replace employee paid parental leave.

Similarly, the working partner who isn’t the primary carer of a newborn child is also eligible for paid parental leave. In most cases, this will come in the form of 2 weeks paid at the national minimum wage, and is paid directly to the employee.  

Employer Paid Parental Leave

In some cases, employment contracts can include agreements related to paid parental leave. This isn’t a requirement, but it’s often added to sweeten contracts and make them more appealing to high-value employees.

It’s important to note that employees can receive both employer paid parental leave and Australian Government funded parental leave at the same time.

Employer Obligations

As an employer, you do have a range of obligations when it comes to paid parental leave. Obviously, you have to honour any leave agreements present in contracts between you and your employees. Similarly, you also have to keep records detailing which of your employees have been paid parental leave, when they were paid, and how much they were paid, among other things.

Final Word

Australian parental leave laws aren’t complicated. As an employee you do have some basic obligations, but nothing to worry too much about. As long as you’re honouring your contracts and keeping good records then everything should be fine.

If you’re worried, then speak to your local commercial lawyer to find out more.