Parental leave is time off work for the birth or adoption of a child. All employees are entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave if they have at least 12 months continuous service with their employer. Parental leave also applies in relation to same sex de facto relationships and single parents.
Generally a parent is entitled to take 12 months unpaid parental leave, usually taken separately. In certain circumstances, you may also be able to ask for an additional 12 months unpaid parental leave if you have a partner and your partner has not taken their full 12 months. Your employer can refuse additional leave if they have reasonable business grounds.
If your child was born or adopted after 1 January 2011 you may also be entitled to paid parental leave under the federal government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme. You can take up to 18 weeks at the National Minimum Wage if you are the primary carer. If you are not the primary carer you may be entitled to up to two weeks paid leave (called 'dad and partner pay').
The full time national minimum wage is $16.87 per hour (as at July 2014).
Some employees may be entitled to extra paid or unpaid parental leave. You should check your award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment to see what you are entitled to.
There are other parental leave entitlements, including consultation requirements and a return to work guarantee. For more information about parental leave, go to the
Parental leave and related entitlements fact sheet on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Case study – Dave
Dave and his partner are planning to adopt a child.