Amendments to the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (Cth) (PPL Act) were recently passed, which means that from 1 January 2013, eligible dads and partners will be entitled to parental leave pay from the Federal Government.
What is the paid parental leave scheme?
As previously outlined in our October 2010 update here, the paid parental leave scheme (Scheme) was introduced by the Federal Government to establish a uniform entitlement to parental leave pay. Under the existing scheme, primary carers who have or adopt a child from 1 January 2011 may be eligible to receive up to 18 weeks of parental leave pay at the national minimum wage.
The Scheme has now been extended so that eligible dads and partners (including partners in same sex couples) will be entitled to up to two weeks of parental leave pay at the national minimum wage if they care for a child born or adopted from 1 January 2013.
What is dad and partner pay?
Dad and partner pay is available to eligible fathers and partners caring for a child born or adopted from 1 January 2013. It is intended to provide financial assistance to fathers and partners to enable them to support the primary caregiver of the child. While dad and partner pay is in addition to any employer-funded paid leave, it cannot be taken at the same time as paid leave.
Dad and partner pay may be claimed by:
the biological father of the child;
- the partner (including same sex partner) of the child’s birth mother;
- an adoptive parent of the child; or
- a person who otherwise satisfies the circumstances prescribed by the Scheme.
What are the eligibility criteria?
To be eligible, the dad or partner:
- must care for the child (either primary care or joint care);
- must not be on paid leave or at work during the period they are receiving the Government parental leave pay; and
- must satisfy the same work, income and residency tests that apply to the primary caregiver.
The current work, income and residency tests that apply to the Scheme require the claimant to:
- have worked at least 10 of the 13 months prior to the expected birth or adoption of the child with a break of no more than eight weeks between any two consecutive work days;
- have undertaken at least 330 hours of paid work during the 10 month period (an average of one day of paid work per week);
- have an income of $150,000 or less in the financial year before the payment is claimed or made; and
- be an Australian resident.
Dad and partner pay is available to fathers and partners who meet the Scheme’s eligibility criteria, irrespective of whether the primary carer or mother has been in paid work or at home before the birth or adoption. Even if a primary carer does not, or is not eligible to, receive parental leave pay, a father or partner may still be eligible for dad and partner pay.
When is dad and partner pay available?
Dad and partner pay is available during the first 12 months after the birth or adoption of the child. Claims for dad and partner pay can now be lodged. Payments to eligible fathers and partners will be made by the Department of Human Services from 1 January 2013. Unlike Government-funded parental leave pay for primary caregivers, employers are not required to administer dad and partner pay to eligible employees.
What are the key lessons for employers?
Employers should review or prepare their own parental leave policies in light of the above changes to the PPL Act. When conducting a policy review, employers should have regard to the recent amendments to the parental leave provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act), described below.