Changes to unpaid parental leave entitlements

Apr 23, 2021 | Payroll

The Fair Work Act was amended on 26 Nov 2020 to include new unpaid parental leave entitlements to parents who have experienced traumatic events during or ahead of their unpaid parent leave.

Parents are now eligible to take unpaid parental leave for a maximum of 12 months if they experience:

  • a stillbirth;
  • the death of a child during the first 24 months of life.

Employers cannot instruct parents to return to work during this time (i.e. cancel any unpaid parental leave), though parents still have the option to choose to return to work after a stillbirth or death of a child.

Access to Compassionate Leave

Parents who experience a stillbirth or death of a child may be entitled to take compassionate leave while on unpaid parental leave. Another employee may also be entitled to compassionate leave if the child was, or would have been, an immediate family member or household member of the employee.

Premature birth & birth-related complications

Parents who experience premature births or other birth-related complications that result in the newborn baby having to stay in hospital or being hospitalised immediately after birth can now agree with their employer to pause their unpaid parental leave. Parents may return to work, and the period that they are back at work won’t be deducted from their unpaid parental leave.

New flexible unpaid parental leave entitlement

From 27 November 2020, parents that are entitled to unpaid parental leave are now able to take up to 30 days (6 weeks) of their maximum 12-month unpaid parental leave period on a flexible basis. This may be taken as:

  • a single continuous period of 1 or more days, or
  • separate period of 1 or more days each

Flexible unpaid parent leave needs to be taken within the first 24 months of the birth or adoption of a child.

More information regarding the rules for requesting and taking flexible unpaid parental leave can be found at:

Source: Fair Work Australia