An introduction to parental leave

by | Oct 18, 2016 | Leave & Policies

At work we all rely on the skills and experience of our staff and colleagues, but outside of work we also have family responsibilities.

Our business and employment environments rely on the skills and experience of our team, but outside of work we also have family responsibilities. Whether we have our own children or not, we are all care-givers of future generations.

As employers, it’s important to formally accommodate a degree of harmony between people’s work and family life. The Parental Leave and Protection in Employment Act helps us do just that.

Notwithstanding the goodwill when someone is blessed with a child, and the recognition of the rights of employees to have time off for parental leave, there will always be the question of who pays and what is affordable.

The introduction of Government paid parental leave was a significant step to address the loss of income experienced when parental leave is taken from work. And Government paid parental leave is perhaps the best solution, because it recognises that although many businesses agree with the importance of paid parental leave, small businesses may not be able to directly bear the cost burden.

A brief summary of the main provisions of the Act:

  • A female employee who is having a baby
  • An employee whose spouse/partner is having a baby 
  • An employee who is assuming the sole care of a child he/she intends to adopt. 
  • A couple who are spouses/partners and are assuming the care of a child under 6 years they intend to jointly adopt. In this case the couple concerned can nominate which of them is primarily eligible for the parental leave.

Although the provisions under the Act appear complex and potentially confusing at first sight, they simply reflect the entitlement options for employees in a variety of circumstances. As an employer, you are only likely to be dealing with individual cases, so simply need to assess the request for parental leave and follow a clear process to meet your obligations.

To help you, we have written a quick guide to parental leave for the HRtoolkit library.