WK Lawyer Logo White

Under the Parental Leave Act 2010, it is generally acceptedthat a significant proportion of the population will qualify for a government-fundedpayment of (up to) 18 weeks paid Leave at the minimum weekly wage.

There are plenty of workplace agreements that are greaterthan this minimum entitlement. So you will need to look into your ownindustrial agreement/contract when considering that what rights apply in yoursituation.

Father/Partner pay are paid at the same minimum wage, thoughfor two weeks.

As the Parental Leave Act is 366 pages in length, the keypoints to know are:

1.   If you have completed 12 months continuousservice in your current employment, then you are eligible to apply for Leave.


2.   Casual employees are also eligible, and an entitlementwill depend on your work hours and employment being regular and systematic.


3.   The concept of continuous service takes intoaccount the stand down provisions and the like as a consequence of Covid, andso 12 months continuous service can occur over a period of 600 days (previouslythis was 392 days).


4.   If you earn more than $150,000 a year, then youmay not qualify.


5.   Paid Leave is for a period of 18 weeks set at aminimum wage (currently $753.80 per week).


6.   You can take 12 months unpaid leave and mayrequest the further 12 months but must do so for weeks prior to the first 12months expiring.


7.   If you are a couple, then the 24 months iscombined amount of the time between you and not more than 8 weeks can be takentogether.


8.   The National Employment Standards cover theprimary care over such Leave but not the secondary carer.


9.   Parental leave can start six weeks prior to thebirth.


10. TheSouth Australian Long Service Leave Act 1987 doesn't take into account your Leavefor the purpose of your long service accruing - not even the 18 weeks that ispart of the NES.


11. Youentitled to go back to your pre-Parental Leave position and you must be keptinformed on any significant change in the workplace.


12. Onunpaid Parental Leave, you get 10 keeping-in-touch days and will be paidaccording to your normal wage (on a pro rata basis).


13. Youdo not need to use your keeping-in-touch days but you do decide to use them,then you can commence from 42 days post birth of your child.

While Australians are most fortunate to have Parental Leave,the current scheme still has some issues.

Long Service Leaves entitlements should not be put on-holdfor primary carers, usually mothers, and seems to be the only Leave that isprecluded from South Australian Long Service Leave that is also a primary rightunder the Fair Work Act.

The irony is that this is indeed discriminatory to (at thisstage) mothers. And if a primary carer has more than one child, then it is notjust 18 weeks that primary carers would be excluded, but instead is double, triple,quadruple, etc. that amount. The more children you have, the more adverseimpact.

The Father/Partner pay is an entitlement under the PaidParental Leave scheme, which provides Fathers/Partners with up to 2 weeks ofgovernment-funded pay at the National Minimum Wage. It was introduced back in2013 and was designed to encourage fathers to spend more time with their new-bornchildren.

Unfortunately, the current Parental Leave system is notreflective of modern Australian views on family dynamics. Two weeks’ worth ofpaid Parental Leave (amounting to $1,507.60) for any parent is quite insufficient.

The issues that there exists no shared Parental Leaveapproach. Mothers are typically deemed primary carers and as such are eligiblefor up to 18 weeks of paid Parental Leave.

Fathers/Partners on the other hands are often labelledsecondary carers, a categorisation which precludes that parent from accessingthe maximum parental entitlements. The same attitude is taken by mostorganisations, which provide very limited support to secondary carers.

It could be said that the current scheme is reflective on anoutdated family model: mother staying at home to raise the children, whilst thefather works to provide an income. If this is the case, it would seem this isconcerningly inconsistent with modern views of family, and by extension, equality.Allowing the Dad/Partner pay to be increased or as a shared Parental Leavescheme to be implemented would provide families with adequate support an equalopportunity to bond with their new-borns at home during such a critical time.

Parental Leave is a vital employee entitlement that shouldreflect modern family views. Parental Leave that supports both parents equallywould reduce the stigma and encourage more fathers to spend time with their new-borns,as well as a dismantling cultural, gendered or financial barriers that canprevent parents from caring adequately for their children.

In a time where we all have less and less time to spend withwhat matters the most, our family, I think we can all agree that this would bethe ideal Parental Leave model for all South Australian employees.