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Parental leave changes - why it’s time for employers to review their policies

Employment Law: 11 October 2023

Author: Bianca Mazzarella - Our People

The need for greater work-life balance for families has recently been recognised by Parliament which has resulted in changes to the way parental leave applies to the majority employees.

Parental leave changes - why it’s time for employers to review their policies

Significant changes which amend the government’s paid parental leave scheme and unpaid parental leave scheme have been passed through:

  • the Paid Parental Leave Amendment (Improvements for Families and Gender Equality) Rules 2023; and
  • the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023.

What are some of the changes? Paid Parental Leave (Government)

Under the new legislation which came into effect on 1 July 2023:

  • There is a single paid parental leave scheme which removes the notion of a primary and secondary carer, accessible to both parents;
  • More employees will be able to access the scheme as the threshold is now $350,000 (family income test) as opposed to $168,865 (individual income test);
  • 20 weeks of leave can now be shared by both working parents and taken up until the child is the age of 2 years old, removing the requirement to take 12 weeks consecutively; and
  • Employees do not have to return to work after the leave.

Unpaid Parental Leave

There is greater flexibility around how and when the unpaid leave is taken, this includes:

  • 12 months unpaid leave can be taken within 24 months of the birth or placement of their child;
  • Both parents can now request a further 12 months leave following the initial 12 month leave entitlement;
  • Flexible unpaid leave days has increased from 30 to 100 days per annum, which can be taken flexibly during 24 months after birth or placement of a child;
  • Both parents can now take unpaid parental leave at the same time.

What does this mean for employers?

The concept of primary and secondary carers is now outdated in an effort to promote greater equality in caring for children.

Employers need to ensure their policies are up to date and ensure they are providing correct entitlements to employees who are entitled to parental leave to avoid any underpayment or discrimination allegations.

Our experienced employment law team is happy to assist with all employment related matters. Please contact Bianca Mazzarella, Senior Associate ( or Stephen Curtain, Special Counsel ( or to assist.

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