Parental Leave Rights

Parental leave offers you the right to take unpaid time off work to look after your child or make arrangements for their welfare.

The eligibility criteria for taking unpaid parental leave are:

  • You have been employed by the same employer for at least a year;
  • You are an 'employee', with a contract of employment, not self-employed or a worker (most agency and casual staff don't have the right to unpaid parental leave); and
  • You are a parent named on the child's birth certificate or you are named on the child's adoption certificate or you have legal parental responsibility for a child under 18.

If you do not qualify for parental leave but need time off to care for your child, you could ask your employer to consider the following options:

  • Taking paid holiday
  • Taking unpaid time off
  • An application for flexible working

Both parents may take up to a total of 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave for each of child up until their 18th birthday. If your child is adopted, you can take a total of up to 18 weeks' unpaid parental leave until the 18th anniversary of their placement with you or until their 18th birthday, whichever comes first.  If you are separated, the parent who no longer lives with the children only has the right to unpaid parental leave if they retain formal parental responsibility for the children. Foster parents do not have rights to unpaid parental leave.

Unpaid parental leave is an individual right to each child and it cannot be transferred between parents, but can be carried over between different jobs as the leave extends over your child's life.

You are limited to taking 4 weeks unpaid parental leave a year in blocks of one week.  It is not usually possible to take individual days.  You will need to give you employer 21 days notice of your intention to take unpaid parental leave.

Your employment rights are preserved during any period of unpaid parental leave.

If you believe that your unpaid parental leave rights are being compromised, or you simply want more information about your rights, Ashby Cohen can help you. We specialise in employment law cases, and our years of experience as employment lawyers make us uniquely qualified to assist you with any parental leave issues you may have. Please contact us for an initial free telephone consultation.

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