What are my legal rights on parental leave?

Going on parental leave is an exciting time for a new parent - it's a start of new and exciting stage in your life in more ways than one! If you are a permanent employee who has been with your employer for at least 12 months you are covered by the Fair Work Act's provisions on parental leave. While the law offers some protection, you may find that your firm offers some extra benefits over and above the legal protections you have.

Ensure that you follow all of the administrative requirements of your internal processes when applying for leave. Keep a copy of all submitted forms, and keep a record of all of your contact with your place of work while pregnant and on parental leave to be clear about all interactions you have had with your company on the topic of your parental leave.

Here are your rights under employment law while on parental leave.

Unpaid leave of 12 months

You are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. If you earn less that $150,000 per annum, as a family, in the 6 months before your go on maternity leave you may also be eligible for the baby bonus or parental leave pay through Centreline. Either parent can take this leave, but the leave must be taken as a continuous period. The parent taking the leave can request a further 12 month extension of the leave, but the employer does not have to grant this if the business conditions do not support a further period of leave.

Return to a similar role

The employee has the right to the same role if it still exists, or if the role no longer exists to a role with similar level of responsibility. If the employee has transferred roles during their pregnancy, they have the right to return to their pre-pregnancy role on their return from parental leave.

The right to request flexible work arrangements

Employees have the right to request flexible work arrangements on the return from parental leave, although employers are not obligated to offer these conditions if business conditions do not support the requested arrangements.

If you feel that you have been discriminated against while on parental leave, or on your return from parental leave your first step should be to comply with your internal HR polices for dispute resolution. If you cannot resolve the issues within that process then you should meet with an employment lawyer such as Adelaide Legal to discuss the best option for you to move forward.