Circular 2020/8: Changes to Parental Leave Pay to Improve Flexibility
- This circular is to inform Australian Government employers of the recent changes to the Paid Parental Leave scheme which will affect families with children that are born or adopted on or after 1 July 2020. These amendments provide wider options to families who seek to access Parental Leave Pay and relate to the payment, not access to leave.
- Amendments to the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, by way of the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Act 2020, aim to support women’s economic independence by allowing primary carers to access Parental Leave Pay more flexibly and increase participation by women in the workforce after a period of parental leave.
- Under the previous Paid Parental Leave scheme, eligible parents could only access Parental Leave Pay in a single continuous block of up to 18 weeks (90 payable days), and within 12 months of the birth or adoption of their child.
- Under the new scheme, parents are able to access the payment of up to 18 weeks as two separate types of Parental Leave Pay. These are:
- A Paid Parental Leave period of up to 12 weeks which is paid as a single continuous block. This needs to be used before they have returned to work and within 12 months of the birth or adoption of their child.
- Up to 30 Flexible Paid Parental Leave days. These need to be used after the Paid Parental Leave period and within 24 months of the birth or adoption of their child. Flexible Paid Parental Leave days can be used both before and after they have returned to work.
- Employees will choose how and when they want to access their Flexible Paid Parental Leave days. They can connect some or all of their Flexible Paid Parental Leave days to their 12‑week Paid Parental Leave period. This will give them a continuous block of up to 18 weeks paid on weekdays. Services Australia systems will support these changes from 14 September 2020.
- To access Parental Leave Pay, employees need to be on paid or unpaid leave.
- In most cases, the initial 12-week Paid Parental Leave period must be accessed before they return to work.
- Flexible Paid Parental Leave days can be accessed before and after they have returned to work, but can only be paid on days that they are not working. This can include days that they are on paid or unpaid leave. For example: An employee who has returned to work on a part-time roster Monday to Thursday can claim Flexible Paid Parental Leave on Fridays. Flexible Paid Parental Leave days claimed after the employee has returned to work are delivered by Services Australia.
- In rare cases, an employee may have entitlement to access Parental Leave Pay, but not leave. In such cases, agencies may consider providing unpaid discretionary leave to employees to allow them to be absent to access it where leave is not otherwise available under their Enterprise Agreement, the Fair Work Act 2009 or under the Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973.
- Also, to access Flexible Paid Parental Leave days after they have returned to work the employee and employer may need to negotiate a return to work or part-time roster plan.
- Additional information can be found at Services Australia: Changes if you get family payments (for employees) or Changes to Parental Leave Pay from 1 July 2020 (for employers), or on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
- Agencies that deliver Parental Leave Pay will continue to be responsible for delivering the Paid Parental Leave period to eligible employees. Under the new scheme they will also be responsible for delivering any Flexible Paid Parental Leave days that are connected to it. All other Flexible Paid Parental Leave days will be delivered by Services Australia.
- Agencies won’t need to make any changes to the way that they provide Parental Leave Pay funds to employees. Services Australia will continue to provide the funds and tell agencies how long they need to provide funds to each employee. Further information about Flexible Paid Parental Leave will be available from 14 September 2020.