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Explained: Changes To Unpaid Parental Leave Entitlements

Organisations have policies and procedures in place for the efficient and fair administration of employment matters. Ensuring your policies are current is imperative.

On 26 November 2020, the Fair Work Act was amended to include new unpaid parental leave entitlements for parents who experience traumatic events during or ahead of their unpaid parental leave.

From 27 November 2020 these amendments include: 

  • Parents may be eligible to take unpaid parental leave for a maximum of 12 months in the event of a stillbirth or the death of a child during the first 24 months of life. What means is that employers cannot direct parents to return to work i.e. cancel any unpaid parental leave. Parents may however elect to return to work.
  • Compassionate Leave has been extended to include parents who experience a stillbirth or death of a child. Whilst on unpaid parental leave they may be entitled to take compassionate leave. In addition, another employee may also be entitled to take compassionate leave if the child was or would have been, an immediate family or household member of the employee.
  • In the event of a premature birth or other birth-related complications that require the baby to remain in hospital, parents may now agree with their employer to pause their unpaid parental leave. What this means is that, over the period of time that the baby is hospitalised and the parents return to work, this time won’t be deducted from their unpaid parental leave.

New flexible unpaid parental leave entitlement

Parents entitled to unpaid parental leave may now take up to 30 days of their 12 month unpaid leave on a flexible basis. This flexible leave may be taken as:

  • A single continuous period of 1 or more days, or
  • Separate periods of 1 or more days each.

This flexible unpaid leave needs to be taken within the first 24 months of the birth or adoption of a child and parents may choose to take it for a number of reasons including to share caring responsibilities between parents or to help with gradually returning to work.

Time to review your policies

It is good practice that organisations review their policies on a regular basis to ensure they are current and relevant to their workforce.

Having a suite of policies is important, so is ensuring your employees are familiar with them and acknowledge they are aware of their obligations to adhere to them.  

Perhaps it may be time to do so in your organisation. LMHR can take the pain away and assess, update and or develop key policies in your organisation.