Parental leave entitlements for a new employee

Q: One of my full time employees has just told me that she is four month’s pregnant and due in September 2017. This employee only started with our company two months ago. Do I have to grant her parental leave?

A: For this particular set of circumstances, the short answer is no. According to the Fair Work Act 2009, in order to be entitled to parental leave, which is currently 12 months of unpaid leave, a full time employee must have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with the employer immediately before the birth (or expected date of birth) of the child.

However, it is important to note that the Fair Work Act 2009 sets out the minimum standard only. This means that notwithstanding the minimum requirement, an employer could still choose to approve 12 months unpaid leave, or an otherwise negotiated time frame with the employee if they do not qualify due to their length of service.

Whether an employer considers approving parental leave where there is no entitlement really depends on the individual set of circumstances. For example, the employee may have a particular skill set that is difficult to find in the market and the employer chooses to grant parental leave as a way of retaining these skills into the future. Or another example is where the employer has invested a lot of money in to training and on balance it makes more sense to grant a period of parental leave than to retrain a new person in the role.

It is always recommended that employers seek specific and tailored advice from an employment relations specialist in relation to employee entitlements. If you require assistance call Industryus HR on 07 5655 4047 or click here.

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