Australia’s Paternity Leave Laws
So, you’re thinking of starting a family Down Under? Congratulations! Becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences you will ever have.
But before you can start planning for the baby’s arrival, there are a few things you need to take care of first—like figuring out your paternity leave entitlements.
In Australia, there are different types of paternity leave available, depending on your employment situation. Let’s take a look at what you’re entitled to.
Who is Entitled to Paternity Leave in Australia?
An employee who is entitled to paternity leave in Australia could be from the broad spectrum:
- The biological father
- The birth mother’s partner
- Parents who adopt
- Anyone caring for a child born in surrogacy
Mothers and fathers in Australia are entitled to both unpaid and paid parental leave.
Unpaid Parental Leave
Parents are entitled to unpaid parental leave if:
- an employee gives birth
- an employee’s spouse or de facto partner* gives birth
- an employee adopts a child under 16 years
*An employee’s ‘de facto partner’ is someone who lives with the employee in a relationship as a couple on a genuine domestic basis. The employee’s partner can be of the same sex or different sex to the employee, and either a current or former de facto partner of the employee.
Parents who experience a stillbirth or the death of an infant during the first 24 months of life can also take unpaid parental leave.
Who is Eligible For Unpaid Parental Leave?
All employees in Australia are eligible for unpaid parental leave if they have completed at least 12 months of continuous service with their employer.
- all full-time employees
- part-time employees
- casual employees (they need to have a reasonable expectation of this regular work continuing after leave)
How Long is The Unpaid Parental Leave?
If you’re eligible for unpaid parental leave you can take:
- 12 months of unpaid parental leave
- an additional 12 months of leave
Mothers and fathers can take up to 12 months of leave to care for their child, with an option to agree with their employer to take up to another 12 months. Parental leave can be split between both parents, as long as the total amount of leave taken isn’t more than 24 months. For example, both parents take 12 months each, or the mother takes 18 months and the father 6 months. If only 1 person is taking leave, they can take up to 24 months if their employer agrees.
Plan Your Leave
An employee needs to give their employer at least 10 weeks’ notice of their intention to take parental leave and provide evidence if it is required (e.g. specify the intended start and end dates of the leave). You must also confirm the dates of your leave 4 weeks before the leave starts.
Employees who are taking parental leave to care for an adopted child are also entitled to 2 days of unpaid pre-adoption leave to attend relevant interviews or examinations. This leave can’t be used if an employer tells an employee to take a different type of leave instead, such as annual leave.
Dad and Partner Pay
Some employees are also entitled to Dad and Partner Pay.
Employees who get Dad and Partner Pay are still entitled to unpaid parental leave.
How Much is Dad and Partner Pay?
Dad and Partner Pay is currently $772.55* per week before tax (based on the weekly rate of the national minimum wage). You can get this payment for up to 2 weeks.
*This amount is set on 01 July 2021, and it increases every year at this date.
Who Pays for Dad and Partner Pay? Government or Employer?
Centrelink pays it straight to the employee. It is paid in one block directly from the Australian Government. Some employers provide additional money to employees. This is called a top-up. Check your company policy to find out if they offer a top-up.
Are You Eligible for Dad and Partner Pay?
You are eligible for Dad and Partner Pay if you are:
- the biological father
- the birth mother’s partner
- an adoptive parent
- the partner of an adoptive parent
- the person caring for a child born of a surrogacy arrangement
You must also:
- show that they are caring for a newborn each day during the period you get Dad and Partner Pay
- be on unpaid leave, and not working during the time you get Dad and Partner Pay
- not taking paid leave for the same period you get Dad and Partner Pay
- meet an income test (earn under a certain limit – an adjusted taxable income of $151,350 or less in the 2020-21 financial year)
- meet the ‘work test’ of time employed before the leave is taken
- (You need to have worked for both:
– 10 of the 13 months before the date your Dad and Partner Pay period starts
– a minimum of 330 hours, around 1 day a week, in those 10 months.)
- meet residency rules (you must be living in Australia and have one of the following: Australian citizenship, a permanent visa, a Special Category visa, or a certain temporary visa)
To get the 2 weeks of payment, it must start within 50 weeks of their child’s birth or adoption.
Paternity leave is a vital part of ensuring that fathers are able to spend time with their new children and bond with them. In Australia, there are a number of options available for fathers who wish to take paternity leave, including Dad and Partner Pay. For working dads who need to keep track of their leave days at work, we offer a free trial.
This page is meant to provide general guidelines and should be used as a reference. Please note that every country has its own rules and regulations and you should check with the legal counsel in your country what the rules are.
To learn more about laws in various countries, check out our Leave Laws page.