The Australian Government sets a minimum standard for maternity and parental leave through the National Employment Standards (NES). This legislation sets out the minimum entitlements for parents who qualify for parental leave.You may qualify for additional benefits and entitlements from your employer 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 and parental leave entitlements.
What parental leave entitlements are available?
Employees can get parental leave when a child is born or adopted. These entitlements include:
- maternity leave
- paternity and partner leave
- adoption leave
- special maternity leave
- a safe job and no safe job leave
- a right to return to old job
Who is eligible for maternity & parental leave?
The parental leave can be can be taken when an employee gives birth or an employee's spouse or de facto partner gives birth.
- If you're a full-time or part-time employee who has worked for their employer for 12 months before the expected birth date of your baby - then you are eligible for parental leave.
- If you are adopting a child under 16 years of age, then you are also entitled to parental leave if you have been working for 12 months before the expected date of adoption.
- Casual employees need to have been working for their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months.
- If you have or will have responsibility for the care of the child.
- One or both parents can take leave at the same time or different times.
How long can I take parental leave?
Employees 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 baby is born. You can also request an additional 12 months of leave.
Parents can split the parental leave - so that each parent takes some time off to care their new baby. If both parents are working parents, they may take unpaid parental leave at the same time called 'concurrent leave' for up to 8 weeks.
The Australian government also has Paid Parental leave entitlements.
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.
Where can I get more information?
You can access the most up to date information at the Australian Government's
For New Zealand: Take a look at the NZ government's
Employment New Zealand website.
Last Published* February, 2023
*Please note that the published date may not be the same as the date that the content was created and that information above may have changed since.