Applying for parental leave

Employees who want to take parental leave must check they are eligible to take the leave and give their employer notice and evidence.

Eligibility

Employees are eligible to take unpaid parental leave if they:

  • have or will have responsibility for the care of a child
  • have worked for their employer for at least 12 months:
    • before the date or expected date of birth if the employee is pregnant
    • before the date of the adoption, or
    • when the leave starts.

Casual employees must also have:

  • been working for their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months
  • a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis, had it not been for the birth or adoption of a child.

The eligibility rules are the same for all types of parental leave, including continuous and flexible parental leave.

Having another child

Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 12 months are eligible to take parental leave multiple times.

If an employee is having another child and has continued to work for the same employer, the employee is entitled to parental leave without the need to work another 12 months before they take the leave.

However, if in between having another child they have started work with a new employer, they will need to work with that employer for at least 12 months before they can take parental leave.

There are different arrangements for employees when a transfer of business occurs. For more information, see Employee entitlements on a transfer of business.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 s.67 and 68

Notice for taking parental leave

Employees who want to take unpaid parental leave need to give their employer notice that they’re taking leave. They also need to confirm the dates of their leave with their employer.

Notice before starting leave

An employee has to give their employer at least 10 weeks’ notice before starting their unpaid parental leave.

This notice needs to:

  • be in writing
  • say how much leave they want to take
  • if taking continuous unpaid parental leave, include the start and finish dates
  • if taking flexible parental leave, state the total number of days the employee intends to take.

Giving less than 10 weeks’ notice

If an employee can’t give 10 weeks’ notice, they need to provide notice as soon as possible. This may be after the leave has started.

An employee can provide less notice with their employer’s agreement if the employee is:

  • only taking flexible unpaid parental leave
  • taking flexible unpaid parental leave before a period of continuous unpaid parental leave.

If an employee can’t give the appropriate notice, they’re still entitled to take the leave as long as they give notice as soon as possible. An example of this includes if a baby is born prematurely.

Example: Giving notice

Saanvi is a full-time employee and is expecting the birth of her second child.

Saanvi’s doctor has advised her she is expected to give birth on 1 November.

Saanvi tells her employer that she will take unpaid parental leave starting 6 weeks before the expected date of birth.

Saanvi submits this request 12 weeks before the expected date of birth.

Saanvi unexpectedly gives birth 8 weeks early and needs to start her parental leave earlier than planned. She lets her employer know as soon as possible.

4 weeks before starting leave

At least 4 weeks before an employee is due to start their continuous unpaid leave, the employee has to confirm the following with their employer:

  • their parental leave start and end dates
  • any changes to these dates.

An employee should also provide notice as soon as possible if they can’t provide 4 weeks’ notice.

Notice for flexible unpaid parental leave

In addition to the notice requirements for unpaid parental leave, an employee has to give at least 4 weeks’ notice of the specific flexible parental leave days they’re taking.

An employee can change a flexible parental leave day after they’ve given notice if their employer agrees.

Example: Notice before taking flexible parental leave

Abdul tells his employer, Nina, he will be taking a period of 2 months of unpaid parental leave.

10 weeks before starting his leave, Abdul notifies Nina that he plans to take 30 days flexible unpaid parental leave in the months following his return to work.

Abdul tells Nina that in 6 weeks’ time his child will be going into childcare for the first time when his partner, Prisha, returns to work. To help with the transition to childcare, Abdul would like to take 2 days of flexible unpaid parental leave. He tells his employer which dates he plans to take the flexible leave.

Abdul can take the 2 days as flexible unpaid parental leave because he has provided:

  • 10 weeks' notice of the total number of days of flexible unpaid parental leave he intends to take
  • more than 4 weeks' notice of the exact dates.

Notice for extending parental leave

Learn more about extending parental leave and notice requirements at Extending parental leave. We have free templates available and information on what happens if a problem arises.

Notice for pre-adoption leave

Employees entitled to take pre-adoption leave have to give their employer notice that they're taking leave as soon as possible. This can be after the leave has started.

Employees also have to tell their employer how long they expect to be on leave.

Evidence

Employers can ask employees for evidence of the expected date of birth (such as a medical certificate) or of the date of placement and age of an adopted child.

Employers can also ask for evidence showing the employee needs to attend any interviews or examinations to support pre-adoption leave.

If an employee doesn’t provide the evidence their employer asks for, they won’t be entitled to the leave.

Source reference: Fair Work Act 2009 s.74

Tools and resources

Related information