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Changes to unpaid parental leave

There are changes to how employers need to respond to requests for extending unpaid parental leave. These new requirements apply to requests for an extension of unpaid parental leave made from 6 June 2023.

When an employee makes a request to extend their unpaid parental leave, the employer can:

  • agree to the request, or
  • discuss and agree with the employee to a different extension period.

The employer needs to put this in writing to the employee within 21 days of the request.

If an employer refuses a request to extend this type of leave, the employer needs to:

  • respond to the request in writing within 21 days
  • only refuse a request if:
    • the employer has discussed and genuinely tried to reach an agreement with the employee about an extension, but not reached an agreement
    • the employer has considered the consequences of refusing the extension
    • the refusal is on reasonable business grounds.

The written response needs to:

  • include details of the reasons for refusal, including the employer’s particular business grounds and how those grounds apply to the request
  • state an alternative period of extension the employer would be willing to agree to or that there isn’t any extension they would agree to
  • include the new dispute resolution provisions that the Commission will have.

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) will also now have the power to deal with disputes about requests for extending unpaid parental leave, which include arbitration. FWC will also have the power to start court proceedings for alleged breaches of orders made if the Commission arbitrates a dispute.

For more information, check out the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations fact sheet on unpaid parental leave.

Got someone heading off on parental leave? Know what you need to do and how you can plan to cover the person’s absence? Bare Bones does. And a lot of other HR/employment stuff that you can use to make your business more successful AND your life easier. How good is that? 

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