As an employer, you need to be aware of everything your employees are entitled to in order to stay within the boundaries of Australian employment law. Parental leave is one area of employment law that employers frequently find themselves making mistakes with, so it pays to be informed.
Your employees’ parental leave rights
All employees in Australia are entitled to unpaid parental leave for 12 months if they have been working for their employer for at least 12 months and are going to be taking care of a new child. Through the government, primary care givers are generally able to have up to 18 weeks’ leave paid at the national minimum wage.
Secondary care givers (such as working dads and partners) are entitled to two weeks’ paid leave at the national minimum wage.
Coming back to work
Once the parental leave is over, the employee should return to work. Employees are allowed to request flexible working arrangements (such as working part time) if their child is under school age or under 18 years of age and disabled.
You will only be able to refuse such a request if you have “reasonable business grounds”. These kinds of requests mean it’s important to keep in touch with your employees throughout their parental leave, then you can plan for any changes once they return.
Staying in touch
Before your employee goes on leave, have a sit-down meeting with them to discuss key dates and any work or clients that need to be taken care of while they’re away. Choose someone in your workplace who will be responsible for keeping the employee in the loop regarding any changes in the company.
The employee should be:
- forwarded all newsletters and important information, and
- invited to any training, team building days and social events that happen during their absence.
This will keep them connected to the business and their work and allow them to return smoothly.
Just before their return to work, arrange a meeting with them to discuss both your expectations and any adjustments that need to be made for them.
If you’re uncertain about any areas of employment law and how they apply to your business, consult an employment lawyer.