Recent Precedent 2011 - Issue 5

Posted on 25 June 2011

Parental Leave Reminders

Paid Parental Leave has now been in place since the start of the year and the entitlement to additional unpaid parental leave for almost 2 years, but how is your business going with managing these new obligations? Do you know about all of your obligations related to parental leave? Have you reviewed and updated your workplace policies and procedures? Below are some reminders to ensure you are complying.

What Are Safe Jobs?

Did you know that leading up to parental leave, you must determine whether pregnant employees are still fit and capable to perform their normal work responsibilities and duties as required by their role? If they are unable to, you must consider giving such employees a ‘safe job’, or in other words an alternative job suitable to their current state.

If, however, you cannot provide a safe job during pregnancy, then the employee will be entitled to go on paid leave at their base rate of pay. Such leave must not reduce the employees other leave entitlements such as annual leave or sick leave.

What is ‘Special Maternity Leave’?

Employees experiencing pregnancy related illness and therefore rendered unfit to perform their normal responsibilities and duties are entitled to unpaid special maternity leave. Such employees are required to give their employees adequate notice and a corresponding medical certificate before special leave is granted. Special maternity leave taken before birth reduces the employee’s unpaid parental leave entitlements.

How Long is the Parental Leave Period?

Eligible employees are entitled to 1 year of unpaid parental leave, with the option of extending the leave by a further 1 year. Employers can refuse an extension of leave based on ‘reasonable business grounds’. Employers should also consider offering part-time work, flexible hours or light duties, before outright refusing extended leave requests. This will ensure that the needs of the employee are catered for and ensure minimisation of further business disruption.

What To Do

If you require any further assistance in relation to how the obligations affect your your business, contact us so that we may assist you find a solution and manage these complicated entitlements.