Did you miss changes to unpaid parental leave?

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Earlier this year (2021), New Zealand became one of the first countries to legalise paid leave for workers who have experienced a miscarriage, by offering three days bereavement leave to both mothers and their partners. Previously, workers had to rely on sick leave. Other countries such as Philippines and India offer workers six weeks (only to those working at a company with 10 or more employees), however this only benefits a small portion of India’s population.

Unfortunately, Australia has not followed suit (yet), but has implemented some changes to unpaid parental leave entitlements late last year which you may have missed.

The unpaid parental leave changes include:

  • With effect from 27 November 2020:
    • Up to 30 days (6 weeks) of their maximum 12 months unpaid leave on a flexible basis, but within the first 24 months from the birth or adoption of a child (notice requirement apply).
    • Up to 12 months unpaid parental leave for parents who experience still birth or death of a child (notice requirements apply)
    • Parents can agree with their employer to pause their unpaid parental leave upon returning to work after experiencing premature births or other birth-related complications resulting in the newborn having to stay in hospital or being hospitalised immediately after birth – i.e. whilst the newborn is hospitalised, parents may return to work and the period whilst at work will not be deducted from unpaid parental leave.
  • With effect from 1 January 2021:
    • Financial support (Stillborn Baby Payment) is offered to parents who experience still birth – see here.

Parents who have experience a still birth or death of a child may still be entitled to take compassionate leave whilst on unpaid parental leave. Compassionate leave is also available to those who were, or would have been, an immediate family or household member of the aggrieved parent.

Although these changes do not provide an immediate financial benefit to aggrieved parents (as across the Tasman), they offer greater job security and an opportunity for parents to grieve and seek support. Employers will not be able to direct parents to return to work (i.e. cancel unpaid parental leave) during periods of unpaid parental leave.

If you are an employer or employee and need assistance with understanding your rights, please do not hesitate to contact our team.

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