Paid Parental Leave – A Guide for New Parents

Paid parental leave in Australia was introduced by the Labor government in 2011 to allow working parents to spend time at home with their babies in the first months of their life.

Here’s our guide to everything you need to know about Paid parental leave payments, from whether you qualify to how to apply and more…

Do I Qualify for Paid Parental Leave?

To receive the government’s payments you must meet all the below criteria:

  • Be the primary carer of the newborn or recently adopted child
  • Be living in Australia and be a citizen (or on a qualifying visa)
  • Have worked for 10 of the 13 months prior to the child’s birth
  • Have worked 330 hours in that 10 month period (which is the equivalent of 1 day a week)
  • Have earnt less than $150,000 in the financial year before your leave

What about part-time and self-employed workers or contractors?

You don’t need to work full time to qualify for Paid Parental Leave as long as you meet the above criteria.

Do volunteers, students or non-working parents get anything?

Whilst you are not eligible for Paid Parental Leave, you may be entitled to the Newborn Upfront Payment (a lump sum of $540) and/or the Newborn supplement. The newborn supplement is income tested but if you’re eligible, you can receive a maximum of $1,618.89 for your first child or $540.54 for other children. Check out the Department of Human Services’ website for more information.

How much is Paid Parental Leave?

Paid Parental Leave is currently set at the minimum wage ($695 per week before tax) and can be claimed for 18 consecutive weeks If you don’t have a calculator handy, that is $12,510 all up.

The government’s payments can be claimed on top of any maternity leave payments that your employer already provides.

Who pays me?

In most cases, if you are in regular employment, your employer pays you and then claims this back from the government. In certain circumstances, such as if you’re self employed, you will be paid directly by the government.

You can choose when your payments starts as long as you make the claim and provide proof of birth within 28 days of your child’s birth.

How does Paid Parental Leave affect my maternity leave?

The payment scheme is completely independent of any unpaid leave you may be entitled to. Under the Fair Work Act, employees in Australia who have worked continuously for 12 months prior to the birth of their child are entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave if they are looking after their baby.

Can I split Paid Parental Leave with my partner if he/she is looking after the baby?

Yes, you can transfer your Paid Parental Leave to your partner if you go back to work and they become the primary carer of your child.   They must also meet the criteria above and you can only claim 18 weeks in total between you. For example, you could claim for 10 weeks and your partner could claim for 8. You need to both submit your claims at the same time and do this before you return to work.

In addition, your partner may also be eligible for Dad and Partner pay which is $695 for 2 weeks (or $1,390).

How and when can I apply?

You can start your claim for Parental Leave Pay up to 3 months before your child’s expected date of birth or adoption and you may submit a claim up to a year after your child is born.

However, to receive the maximum 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay, you need to submit your claim within 34 weeks of your child’s birth.

You can claim online at the Department of Human Services’ website or head into a Centrelink branch.

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