Understanding your parental leave entitlements in Australia

Leaving aside all the confusing physical changes happening to your body, if there’s one thing you should be bothered understanding when you’re pregnant – it’s your parental leave entitlements.

I don’t know many people who enjoy life admin – and this is the more confusing kind – so it’s nice to get this checked off the list as soon as you are able.

If you’re fortunate enough to benefit from parental leave entitlements – it’s important to have this squared away before you go on maternity leave – to save yourself the stress of dealing with any complications just before you’re about to pop.

Government entitlements

In Australia, government paid parental leave is facilitated by the Department of Human Services. You can receive up to 18 weeks pay at minimum wage (currently $719.35 pw before tax) which is paid either directly by Centrelink or to your employer who will forward the payment onto you.

The Centrelink website isn’t the most user friendly at the best of times because of the volume of information available. You can check your eligibility here.

Briefly:

  • you’ll have to meet a work test
  • you’ll have to earn less than $150,000 in the year before the birth of your baby
  • you’ll have to be on leave during the period that you will be paid the government entitled parental leave
  • you’ll need to meet residency and citizenship requirements.

There are other exceptional circumstances that may be taken into account – you’ll need to look into these if you do feel as though you’re entitled.

Dads and partners may be entitled to up to 2 weeks of pay – you can check the prerequisites for that entitlement here.

Step-by-step process

The process from go to whoa should be as straightforward (ha!) as:

Step 1

Checking your eligibility – see above.

Step 2

If you are eligible, set up your myGov account and link it to the Centrelink portal.

Step 3

If you don’t have one already, you will need to apply to have a Centrelink Customer Reference Number (CRN) to submit a parental leave claim.  Your CRN will be very important going forward as you’ll use it to submit future child care subsidy claims and potential family assistance claims (subject to eligibility). Your children will also receive CRNs too so you should keep all of this information in a safe place.

Step 4

Submit your paid parental leave claim through the Centrelink portal on myGov website (during which you will need to decide the date in which you would like to receive your payment).

Step 5

Provide proof of birth to Centrelink (through myGov or in person) once baby is born (you get this paperwork upon being discharged from the hospital).

Step 6

Manage your paid parental leave payments. Centrelink’s online services make it easy to track your payments and there is also an app that you can download if you are so inclined.

…and in six easy steps – you should be good to go!

Workplace entitlements

Most larger organisations or established smaller companies may offer some assistance to employees about to go on leave (both paid maternity leave and paid partner leave).

You should check your workplace policies to see whether you are entitled and get the ball rolling there.

In any event, your HR department will likely lead you in the right direction and assist you once you inform them that you are expecting.

Hope this sheds some light to those who are currently navigating the minefield!

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All references to legislative entitlements are current are the time of writing.

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