Paid Paternal Leave for Dads – and More

Recent amendments to the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) will drastically impact both paid and unpaid parental leave entitlements, and the flow on effects for SMEs will be substantial. Significant changes include:

  • The introduction of two week’s paid paternity leave for eligible working fathers under the paid parental leave scheme,
  • Changes to allow employees on unpaid parental leave to take up to ten “keeping in touch days” without affecting their National Employment Standard (‘NES’) entitlements,
  • Amendments around how and when unpaid leave commences and concludes, and
  • Increased requirements related to hiring employees to temporarily replace employees on parental leave.

While the cost of the new paternity leave will be funded by the Federal Government and many of the changes will be a welcome boost to families with new additions, the practical impact of these amendments upon business operations will be significant. Business owners and managers will be required to plan ahead and work out employee schedules early and can anticipate greater periods of employee parental leave. At the same time, the changes to “keeping in touch days” in the Fair Work Act will bring much greater flexibility to employers and employees and bring about consistency between employees with entitlements under the paid parental leave scheme and those on unpaid parental leave under the Fair Work Act.

Changes to the parental leave and related entitlements under the Fair Work Act will take effect from 1 October 2012, with the paid paternal leave scheme to apply from 1 January 2013.

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