The new general public sector EBA (which is still to be voted on and approved by the Fair Work Commission before becoming legally enforceable) contains a number of important changes around parental leave.
Following ANMF’s advocacy, members will have access to new parental leave entitlements relating to length of parental leave and eligibility from the dates in the draft 2020-24 EBA.
Taking or extending a period of long parental leave
Parental leave may be taken by either, or both, members of an employee couple, however long parental leave (that taken by the primary carer) must be taken contemporaneously with the birth, adoption or placement of the child. There is now an automatic right for an employee on long parental leave to extend that leave by up to another 52 weeks (therefore a maximum of 104 weeks) provided you notify your employer as soon as possible but not less than four weeks before the end date of the original leave period.
If you take 104 weeks of parental leave, you can take up to 20 ‘keeping in touch’ days during your leave.
Paid parental leave
An employee whose long parental leave commences on or after 1 April 2021 will be entitled to 14 weeks paid parental leave, up from 10 weeks for leave that commences on or before 31 March 2021.
An employee who takes short parental leave that commences on or after 1 April 2021 will be entitled to two weeks paid parental leave, up from one week for leave that commences on or before 31 March 2021.
Paid parental leave is in addition to any relevant Commonwealth Government paid parental leave scheme (subject to the requirements of any applicable legislation).
Under the draft EBA, full-time and part-time public sector nurses and midwives, and eligible casual employees as defined in the EBA, are eligible for the parental leave entitlements after six months continuous service instead of 12 months.
Superannuation contributions while on parental leave
Until 1 July 2021, superannuation contributions are only made while you are on paid leave during parental leave. From 1 July 2021, employees on parental leave will receive super contributions into their super fund throughout parental leave including the unpaid component.
These contributions will be calculated by your employer using the superannuation contribution made over the 26 pay periods preceding the commencement of parental leave, dividing that by 52, and making that payment for each week you are on parental leave (adjusted for any wage increases that occur during that time).
Unlike the increases in paid parental leave, this applies to each week of parental leave that occurs after 1 July 2021, even you commenced that leave before 1 July 2021.
Parental leave and long service leave
Parental leave taken after 1 November 2018 (yes 2018) whether paid or unpaid counts as service towards long service leave.
Because this date precedes the formal making of the new EBA, there will be a process to enable employees to apply to have service recognised for parental leave that included any part of the period between 1 November 2018 and 30 June 2020 (inclusive). This application must be made within six months of the new EBA being approved by the Fair Work Commission, or the date on which the employee returns to work after parental leave, whichever occurs last.
This also applies to an employee in respect of a former employer who is named in the EBA (i.e. public sector employers) if the employee took a period of parental leave while employed by that former employer that included any part of the period between 1 November 2018 and 30 June 2020 (inclusive).
ANMF will provide details of how to make the application once the EBA is approved by the Fair Work Commission.