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The Australian Government sets a minimum standard for maternity leave entitlements (also known as parental leave) through the National Employment Standards (NES). These standards have been in place since January 2010. These standards set out what is the minimum entitlements you must receive for parental leave, but if you are one of the lucky ones you may benefit from more generous maternity leave entitlements depending on what your employer offers and if your job is covered under a specific Award or Workplace Agreement. Below we have answered the most common questions parents have about maternity leave entitlements.

Who is eligible for maternity leave?

  • If you're a full-time or part-time employee who has been in their current job for 12 months before the expected birth date of your bub - then you are eligible for maternity leave.
  • If you are adopting a child under 6 years of age, then you are also entitled to parental leave if you have been working for 12 months before the expected date of placement.

If you're a long-term casual worker then you will also have some maternity leave entitlements and should negotiate a fair and reasonable period of leave.

How long can I take maternity leave?

You can take up to 12 months unpaid parental leave to care for your new baby. This leave will be reduced if you take any special maternity leave before your bub is born.

Parents can split the parental leave - so that each parent takes some time off to care their new baby.

What happens to my job when I return to work?

You are entitled to return to work into the position you held before starting your parental leave. If that position no longer exists due to a genuine restructure you should be offered a role with similar status and pay in the company.

When do I have to tell my employer that I am pregnant?

You must inform your employer at least 10 weeks before the expected date of birth of your child. Take a look at our Maternity Leave Letter which gives you an idea of what you need to include.

For information relating to parental leave in New Zealand take a look at the The Department of Labour, Employment Relations Service.

For more information see Pregnancy or Maternity leave laws.