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Significant changes to parental leave entitlements introduced

On 26 November 2020, the Fair Work Act 2009 was amended to introduce greater flexibility for employees taking unpaid parental leave. Employees can now take up to 30 days of “flexible parental leave” at any time up to two years after the birth or adoption of a child, including after the employee has returned to work from their first period of parental leave.


For example, an employee could take 11 months of their 12 month parental leave entitlement when their child is born and then return to work, whilst saving a further 30 days of parental leave to be taken flexibly at some point before the child’s second birthday. Those 30 days of parental leave could be either be taken in one block, or in separate periods of at least a day.


This follows similar amendments to the Government-funded paid parental leave scheme for employees on a low income.


2020 also saw new parental leave entitlements introduced for parents of stillborn babies, parents of children that die within the first 24 months of life and for parents of premature babies or those with birth-related complications. The changes are likely to mean that employers’ parental leave policies will require updating to conform to the new rules.