While the proposed legislation has not passed Parliament yet, if it does, it will:
- allow parents to take up to "30 days of unpaid parental leave (flexible unpaid parental leave) during the 24 month period" of the child's birth (or placement); and
- ensure that 12 months' unpaid parental leave is available for families dealing with stillbirths, infant deaths or premature births.
The rationale for the 30 day flexible leave is to allow parents to spend leave with their newborn child after returning to work, in order to balance work and family arrangements.
This leave will be available "in full" to part-time and casual employees – that is, it does not appear to be a pro-rated entitlement.
Of course, the interplay of these provisions with other portions of the Act, will mean that employees will receive protections from the General Protections provisions contained in the Act should any prejudicial action be taken against them for taking the leave.
Further, the Explanatory Memorandum to the legislation notes that this proposed legislation is consistent with provisions under the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Flexibility Measures) Bill 2020 (Cth), which provides for government payments at minimum wage during periods of parental leave to be broken into two periods (that is, during the initial parental leave and during the subsequent 30 day period of flexible unpaid parental leave).
Should this legislation be enacted, it will be important that businesses and Human Resources professionals are aware of these entitlements and ensure systems and processes are updated appropriately.
If you require further information or have any queries in relation to this legal update, please contact George Haros, William Marshall or a member of our Employment team.