FINALLY. Did you know that the Paid Parental Leave scheme came into effect from the 1st January? More importantly if it affects you, do you know how to apply for the scheme and how you receive the benefit? I sat down with an ebuliant Jenny Macklin, the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs who has made campaigning for an Australian maternity leave scheme one of her major focuses for over 10 years.
The Paid Parental Leave scheme:
- is government funded
- is for eligible working parents
- can be transferred to the other parent
- is paid at the National Minimum Wage – currently $570 a week before tax*
- is for up to 18 weeks, and
- can be taken any time within the first year after birth or adoption.
It is important to organise your leave from work. You should try to do this at least 10 weeks before you intend to take leave from work.
If you have worked for 12 months or more for the same employer you are entitled to up to 12 months unpaid parental leave under the National Employment Standards.
Does the Paid Parental Leave scheme give me an entitlement to leave?
The Paid Parental Leave scheme provides you with Parental Leave Pay but does not give you an entitlement to leave.
If eligible, you will receive up to 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay at the National Minimum Wage. This will complement parents’ existing entitlements to leave, such as unpaid parental leave under the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009. For more information about your workplace entitlements and obligations visit Fair Work website or call 13 1394.
What if I decide to resign?
If you decide to resign before or during your Paid Parental Leave period you can still be eligible for Parental Leave Pay. You will receive your Parental Leave Pay from the Family Assistance Office. You will need to notify us of your decision to resign if you are receiving Parental Leave Pay from your employer. We will then provide your Parental Leave Pay directly to you.
What if I want to return to work?
If you return to work, your Parental Leave Pay will stop. Under the Paid Parental Leave scheme employees have the option, if you and your employer agree to Keep in Touch with the workplace. This means you can participate in workplace activities for up to 10 days from the birth or adoption of your child until the end of your Paid Parental Leave period. The days you choose to attend work as a Keeping in Touch day cannot be within the first two weeks after the birth or adoption of your child. The days do not need to be used all at once and you must be paid your usual wages or salary in addition to your Parental Leave Pay for the time you attend work. Keeping in Touch days do not extend your Paid Parental Leave period. Keeping in Touch must be a voluntary decision between you and your employer, your employer cannot make this compulsory.
You can apply for your PPL through the Family Assistance website www.familyassist.gov.au
More questions? The Mamamia Paid Parental Leave cheat sheet might provide you with further answers. Also, Australian Government PPL specialists will be answering any questions you leave in comments below. So ask away.
How is the Paid Parental scheme going to change your plans? Does your employer also have a maternity leave scheme in place? If you already have children, would the scheme have helped you?