Paid paternity leave set to become a reality

The government’s newly legislated Dad and Partner Pay provides fathers – including adopting parents and parents in same-sex couples – with two weeks paid paternity leave at the pre-tax rate of $606-a-week minimum wage.

Effective from January 1, 2013, the payment is an extension to the Paid Parental Leave scheme that began on January 1, 2011. Families can start applying for the Dad and Partner Pay through Centrelink from October 2012 as it is paid through the Department of Human Services rather than by the employer.

The payment is available to eligible working fathers and partners who:

•    care for a child born or adopted from January 1, 2013

•    work full-time or part-time as well as casual, seasonal, contract or self-employed workers

•    worked at least 330 hours in 10 of the 13 months before the birth of their baby

•    earned $150,000 or less in the previous financial year, and

•    fulfil the Australian residency test.

An individual must be on unpaid leave or not working in the period that he receives the payment. A family can solely receive the Dad and Partner Pay or in addition to other payments like the Baby Bonus and the Family Tax Benefit.

Further, ‘keeping in touch days’ enable employees to perform paid work for short periods to assist with their return to work and are capped at 10 days for leave of up to 12 months. Parents who take additional unpaid parental leave (for a second 12 months) may access an additional 10 days.

The Paid Parental Leave Act was amended to provide that a ‘keeping in touch day’ must not be within:

•    14 days after birth/adoption of a child if the employee suggested/requested they perform work for the employer on that day, and

•    42 days after the birth/adoption of a child if otherwise (i.e. where it is employer-requested).