Paid maternity leave
Under current legislation, employers are not required to provide women with any paid maternity leave. Australian employers are only required to provide 12 months of unpaid leave to permanent employees who have worked for at least 12 months prior to taking parental leave. See maternity leave entitlements.
Of course, many employers understand the benefit of providing paid maternity leave to attract and retain great employees. In fact, around 40% of all Australian working women have access to some paid maternity leave. Currently the average entitlement is around 7 weeks paid leave for each pregnancy. Other employers may offer their employees with a bonus to encourage them to return to work.
18 weeks paid parental leave
The Australian Federal Government has promised that 18 weeks of paid maternity leave will be available to families from January 2011. The payment will be funded by the Government (Department of Human Services) and not employers.
Generally, 18 weeks of paid maternity leave will be for mothers of a newborn child or the parent of an adopted child. However, this payment will be available to your partner if they meet the same eligibility requirements and they are in the role of primary carer.
To get the payment, you must meet some eligibility requirements:
- be in paid work;
- have been engaged in work continuously for at least ten of the 13 months prior to the expected birth/adoption;
- worked at least 330 hours in that ten month period (an average of one day a week), and
- have received an income of $150,000 or less in the previous financial year.
The Paid Parental Leave Scheme will cover employees including casual workers, the self-employed and contractors.
How much will I get paid from the Paid Maternity Leave Scheme?
If you are eligible under the Paid Maternity Leave Scheme, you can get taxable Paid Maternity Leave payments at the level of the Federal Minimum Wage (currently $543.78 a week) for a maximum period of 18 weeks (until June 2012).
Will I be able to get both parental leave and employer-provided maternity leave?
Yes, you will be able to get both employer-provided and Government Paid Parental Leave.
You can take Paid Maternity Leave before or after employer-provided paid leave or at the same time as employer-provided leave.
Can I still get the baby bonus and claim the 18 week paid maternity leave?
If you are receiving payments under the Paid Maternity Leave Scheme, you will not receive the Baby Bonus (except in the case of twins or multiple births where you may choose to use a combination of both schemes).
You will not be eligible to receive Family Tax Benefit Part B while you are getting Paid Maternity Leave payments.
Otherwise, you will continue to receive Family Tax Benefit under the usual rules. Paid Maternity Leave is treated as taxable income and may affect entitlement to family assistance and child support.
For more information on the new Paid Maternity Leave Scheme visit the Government’s Department of Human Services website.
For more information see Maternity Leave.