The new Paid Parental Leave schemeBy Catherine Brooks | Sep 23, 11 10:49 AM
Here we get a firsthand account from both a mum and a business owner about how this new entitlement worked for them.
The Paid Parental Leave scheme is a new entitlement for working parents. Eligible primary carers of newborn or recently adopted children can get 18 weeks of government funded Parental Leave Pay at the rate of the National Minimum Wage (approximately $590 before tax).
To receive this entitlement, an employee needs to discuss with their employer their intention to take leave. The employee then needs to lodge a claim with the Family Assistance Office for Parental Leave Pay. The Family Assistance Office will decide if the employee is eligible for the payments, and if they are entitled to receive the payments Centrelink will then contact the employer to let the business know if the business is required to funnel the payments to the employee.
For more information for both employees and employers on the topic of paid parental leave go to the Family Assistance Office website http://www.familyassist.gov.au/payments/family-assistance-payments/paid-parental-leave-scheme/.
In this article BusinessChicks gets a first-hand account from both a mum and a business owner about how the scheme worked for them.
Case Study One: The mum
Jess was working for a business on a fixed-term 9 month contract when she fell pregnant. Jess was not entitled to unpaid parental leave under the National Employment Standards (because she had been employed for under 12 months)*, nor was there any company policy in place which gave her additional parental leave entitlements.
However Jess was eligible to receive 18 weeks parental leave pay in accordance with the new Paid Parental Leave legislation (to check out the eligibility criteria head to http://www.familyassist.gov.au/payments/family-assistance-payments/paid-parental-leave-scheme/working-parents---eligibility.php ).
It is an employee’s obligation to apply for these payments through the Family Assistance Office (FAO). When Jess was 6 months pregnant she applied for these payments using the online system, which she says she found relatively easy to use.
Jess received a letter from FAO one week later stating that the application had been received and was being processed. Jess then received another letter six weeks later (one month prior to the birth of her child) specifying that the application had been successfully processed and that the payments would be made after the FAO had received a copy of the baby’s birth certificate. Jess submitted her baby’s birth certificate four days after the birth.
In Jess’s case, she would receive the funds directly from the FAO as her 9 month contract with the company had finished, and she would no longer be working for the company.
Jess received the first payment after one month and Jess then continued to receive the payments on a fortnightly basis.
Case Study Two: The employer
In February 2011 an employee notified the company that they were intending to take parental leave commencing in July 2011.
As at 1 July 2011 it is, in most instances, the employer’s obligation to funnel payments given to the employer from the FAO to the employee. Centrelink will decide if the employer is required to provide Parental Leave Pay and will notify the employer of this decision.
In this case the employer was notified that they would need to funnel these payments to the employee (after they had received the payments from Centrelink). So the employer registered as a pay master with Centrelink online at http://www.centrelink.gov.au/internet/internet.nsf/businesses/register.htm .
Shortly after the company had registered online they received confirmation that they had successfully registered.
The employee then went on parental leave in July 2011. After the employee had given birth she sent through a copy of the birth certificate to the FAO.
The employer received the funds 5 weeks after the birth of the child and then passed that on to the employee in the next pay cycle.
*Further information about unpaid parental leave entitlements under the National Employment Standards can be found at http://www.fairwork.gov.au/employment/national-employment-standards/pages/default.aspx
Catherine Brooks is a lawyer & advisor in industrial relations, employment law and human resources with Ai Group Legal Pty Ltd .
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