With the news that our Prime Minister’s is expecting a baby, this brings attention to our new parental leave laws that come into force 1st July this year that allow new parents to be entitled to an extra four weeks (22 weeks) of Paid Parental Leave (PPL). This will increase to 26 weeks by July 2020.
The new laws also proportionally increase the ‘Keeping in Touch’ hours, from 40 to 50 hours from July 1st, and to 64 hours from 2020. ‘Keeping in Touch’ hours allow an employee to work limited hours during the PPL period if they choose, without losing their entitlement. These hours are central to the employer remaining connected with their employee during their parental leave. This requires the agreement of both the employee and the employer.
The law change does not require employers to provide any additional extended leave. Employers are already required to provide job-protected leave (un-paid) to eligible employees for either six months or 12 months (depending on how long the employee has worked for you). Fixed-term employees receive the same parental leave entitlements as permanent employees, provided they meet the criteria.
There are concerns that the recent legislative reforms may be challenging for employers, in particular small businesses. Given the likelihood that more parents will take the full 26 weeks paid leave, this may provide greater certainty for employers about the length of time they need to temporarily replace the staff. Additionally, employees may be more likely to return after a longer period of leave.
Paid Parental Leave (PPL) is funded by the Government.