Parental leave

Knowing the ‘must, should and could’

Congratulations! You’re having a baby!

Now comes the exciting task of sharing the news with your family, friends and your employer.

Preparing for the arrival of a new family member is an exciting and at times overwhelming life event for you and for your family on a personal level. As you prepare for the change this will have on your personal life you will also need to consider how the change will impact on your working life.

Here’s a checklist of things you must, should and could do to get you started.

The musts

You must know what your rights are with your employer under the Fair Work Act and your workplace agreement or award. Under the Fair Work Act you are entitled to access up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave provided you have completed 12 months of service with your employer before you are due to commence the leave.

You may also be entitled to paid parental leave through your workplace agreement as well as access to the government Parental Leave Payment.

At least 10 weeks before starting the leave you must provide written notice to your employer of your intention to take parental leave including how much time you will be taking and the start and finish dates of the leave.

Four weeks before starting leave you must provide written confirmation of your intention to take the leave as notified earlier. If your circumstances have changed you should tell your employer ASAP.

Once your leave is confirmed the union recommends you confirm any entitlement to paid parental leave with your employer and contact the Department of Human Services to confirm eligibility for the Parental Leave Payment.

The shoulds

Even though the new arrival has yet to arrive, start thinking about your plans for when your parental leave ends. At the end of your leave, the right to return to the position you held before starting the leave is clearly established.

Your right to request an extension of your leave or a flexible work arrangement is not so clear cut.

Things you should start thinking about include:

  • When are you planning to come back?
  • How does this fit with the organisation of the workplace?
  • Will you want longer than 12 months? Less than 12 months? Are you unsure?
  • Will you want to return part time?
  • How will childcare influence your ability to return to work after leave?

I can hear you saying, seriously? The baby is still a peanut!

It might seem that these decisions are way off in the future, but in our experience your employer will be asking what your intentions are well before your sleep deprivation has subsided.

The coulds

The checklists above are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to navigating the brave new world of managing life with young children.

While preparing for the new arrival you could explore the information online. For your legislated entitlements go to the Fair Work Ombudsman website. For everything related to government support go to the Department of Human Services.

Check out the IEU Guide to Parental and Personal Carer’s Leave on the Members Only Resources section of our website Contact your IEU Organiser to discuss any questions related specifically to your personal circumstances but heads up, we can’t help with the sleep deprivation.