Can you take unpaid parental leave for one month?

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Can you take unpaid parental leave for one month?

Can someone take one month's unpaid parental leave, or is there a minimum prescribed period?

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Can someone take one month's unpaid parental leave, or is there a minimum prescribed period?

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Q An employee who is expected to give birth next year has requested one month’s unpaid parental leave. This is the first time that an employee has not requested 12 months’ unpaid parental leave. While the legislation appears to prescribe a maximum period of unpaid parental leave there does not seem to be a minimum prescribed period.

Can the employee request one month’s unpaid parental leave under the Fair Work Act?

A Generally, the Fair Work Act does not require an employee to take a minimum period of unpaid parental leave, however there are certain circumstances when the Fair Work Act does prescribe a minimum period of leave.

These circumstances are:
  1. If a pregnant employee continues to work during the six weeks before the expected date of birth an employer can request a medical certificate stating she is fit to work. If an employee fails to produce a medical certificate, the employee may be sent on unpaid maternity leave. This period of unpaid leave taken before the birth of a child comes out of the employee’s entitlement to 12 months' unpaid parental leave. When an employee ceases to have responsibility for the care of a child, an employer may give an employee written notice requiring the employee to return to work on a specified day. The specified day must be at least four weeks after the notice is given to the employee, and if the leave relates to a female employee who has given birth, not earlier than six weeks after the date of birth of the child.
  2. Parents can take up to a specific period of time at the same time. This applies if both parents are employees who plan to take parental leave. Concurrent leave has to:
  • start immediately after the date of birth or adoption of the child
  • employee couples may take up to eight weeks’ unpaid parental leave at the same time and can take it in separate periods. Each period must be no shorter than two weeks unless the employer agrees.
It is recommended an employer request a medical certificate before an employee returns to work, stating she is fit to perform her designated duties.

Government paid parental leave scheme

The legislation does not prescribe a minimum period of paid parental leave. The maximum period for which any person may be paid parental leave is 18 weeks or two weeks for Dad and Partner Pay.

Parental leave pay is paid in instalments at the national minimum wage for each week day during the person’s PPL period. The employer is the paymaster for most employees. Where a mother taking parental leave has been employed for at least 12 months with an employer prior to the birth or adoption, the Department of Human Services will pay the money to the employer and the employer must pay the parent.

The bottom line: Generally, there is no minimum period of unpaid parental leave under the National Employment Standards although there are circumstances where a minimum period of leave is prescribed.

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