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Parental Leave policy

Policy Statement

An employee who meets the applicable eligibility requirements may be entitled to the federal government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme, which means that the primary carer for a new-born or adopted child can claim paid parental leave for up to 18 weeks and be paid at the national minimum wage.

The Paid Parental Leave Scheme provides that more than one (1) person is entitled to claim the payment if the primary carer changes over time.  For example if one (1) parent is the primary carer and returns to work after ten (10) weeks, the other parent could then become the carer and claim the final eight (8) weeks’ leave.

Eligibility to the Paid Parental Leave Scheme

To be eligible for the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, personnel can be employed full-time, part-time, casual, and some contractors, provided that they meet the following criteria:

  • Have been engaged in work for a total period spanning at least ten (10) of the 13 months prior to the expected birth or adoption of the child, with a break of no greater than eight (8) weeks between any two (2) consecutive work days; and
  • Have undertaken at least 330 hours of paid work during the ten (10) month period (equivalent to approximately one (1) day of paid work per week).
  • Personnel will generally need to be an Australian citizen or resident from the date of birth of the child and remain so for the parental leave pay period in order to be eligible.

The Paid Parental Leave Scheme is limited to an income of under $150,000 (indexed in line with the “Baby Bonus”) and applies to the personnel’s adjusted taxable income in the previous full financial year prior the claim or the birth, whichever is the earlier.

If an eligible member of personnel returns to work before they have received their full Paid Parental Leave Scheme entitlement, the personnel’s partner may receive the unused component of the monies payable, provided that the partner also meets the eligibility criteria outlined above. Importantly the Paid Parent Leave Scheme also makes provisions for individuals other then the child’s parents (such as grandparents) to claim payments in exceptional circumstances where they have custody of a child.

An eligible member of personnel will not be able to work from the date of the child’s birth until ceasing to receive Paid Parental Leave Scheme monies but may ‘keep in touch’ with the workplace for up to ten (10) days during this period whilst receiving pay under the Scheme. 

Personnel who elect to participate in the Paid Parental Leave Scheme will not receive the “Baby Bonus” or family tax benefit B whilst they are receiving payments. 

If an employee does not meet the eligibility criteria of the Paid Parental Leave Scheme or elects not to participate in the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, they will continue to receive the Baby Bonus and the family tax benefit.

Fathers and partners (including same sex partners) will be able to apply for two (2) weeks’ paid parental leave based on the National Minimum Wage for babies who will be born or placed with adoptive parents as of 1 January 2013. 

To be eligible a father or partner must be on (up to) two (2) weeks’ unpaid leave to receive the payment.  This leave may be parental leave, a period of unpaid leave as agreed between the Uniting Church SA and an employee, or a period in which the eligible person is not otherwise working.  This benefit does not change an employee’s entitlement to unpaid parental leave under the National Employment Standards. 

Unpaid Parental Leave

In addition to the Paid Parental Leave Scheme, the National Employment Standards provide for unpaid parental leave.   Parental leave is a generic term encompassing maternity leave, paternity leave and adoption leave.  As a result all personnel of Uniting Church SA (excluding volunteers) will be entitled to unpaid parental leave as prescribed by the National Employment Standards (‘NES’) of the Fair Work Act 2009. 

A parent who is an eligible employee may take separate periods of up to 52 weeks of unpaid parental leave in relation to the birth of a child or adoption of a child below school age. One (1) parent may request up to 52 weeks additional leave, which request his/her employer will only be able to refuse on reasonable business grounds.

The NES entitlement may be exercised by permanent employees after 52 weeks’ continuous service. Casual employees who work on a regular and systematic basis for more than 52 weeks also have access to the entitlement.

Parental leave can only be taken in association with the birth of a child to the employee or the employee’s spouse or de facto partner (including the employee’s former spouse or de facto partner). Alternatively, it may be taken in relation to the placement of a child with the employee for adoption if the employee has or will have responsibility for the care of that child. An entitlement to pre-adoption leave does not arise if the employee could instead take some other form of leave (e.g. paid annual leave) if the employer directs the employee to take that leave.

Adoption related leave is only available in relation to a child under 16 years of age as at the date of placement who has not lived continuously with the employee for six (6) months as at the date of placement. Unpaid parental leave must be taken in a single continuous period. Couples will be entitled to take up to three (3) weeks parental leave at the same time after the birth or placement of a child. Concurrent leave is parental leave and reduces the entitlement an employee otherwise has to unpaid parental leave.

If an employee is part of a couple and both parties are eligible to take unpaid parental leave, the couple are able to take three (3) weeks of their unpaid leave concurrently, either immediately after the birth or adoption, or if agreed to by the Uniting Church SA, at any time in the first six (6) weeks after the child’s birth or adoption.   


In accordance with the NES, the following procedures apply:

Notice of Intention

Personnel are required to provide at least ten (10) weeks’ notice, from the commencement date of their parental leave, to Uniting Church SA, of their intention to take parental leave or, if that is not practicable, to provide the notice as soon as practicable (which may be a time after the leave has started). An example of when it might not be practical for an employee to give notice is in relation to the premature birth of a child. Evidence may be required of the expected date of birth or the day or expected day of placement for adoption (and in relation to parental leaving relating to adoption, whether the child is under 16 years of age at the date of placement).

Requirements for taking leave

Unpaid parental leave must start:

  • for a pregnant female employee no earlier than six (6) weeks before the expected date of birth of the child (unless the employee is eligible for special maternity leave – see below);
  • for a pregnant female employee later than six (6) weeks before the expected date of birth of the child where the employee provides a medical certificate that confirms that the employee is fit to perform her work and whether it is advisable for the employee to continue in her position due to any illness or risks arising out of the pregnancy or any hazards connected with the position;
  • for an employee other than the pregnant female employee, on the date of the child’s birth, and
  • for adoption leave, on the day of the child’s placement.

Where the employee’s spouse or de facto partner has responsibility for the care of the child (and is not also an employee) the employee’s leave may start anytime within 12 months after the date of birth or day of placement of the child. Uniting Church SA may direct a pregnant employee to start unpaid parental leave up to six (6) weeks before the expected date of birth of the employee’s child if the Church considers (based on medical evidence) that there is a risk to the employee in working in their present circumstances. This risk might arise because of a pregnancy related illness and/or hazards connected with the employee’s work.

Requesting an extension to unpaid parental leave

An employee may request an additional period of unpaid parental leave of up to 12 months. The employee must first have taken their full entitlement to 12 months parental leave before making that request. Any proposed extension must be continuous with the employee’s unpaid parental leave. The employee must provide at least four (4) weeks’ notice in writing before the end of the employee’s initial period of leave requesting an extension. Uniting Church SA will respond in writing to the written request as soon as practicable, and not later than 21 days after the request is made. A request may only be refused on reasonable business grounds. The Church will give reasons for refusal. Reasonable business grounds may include (but is not limited to), for example:

  • inability to organise work among existing staff, or
  • inability to recruit a replacement employee.

Unpaid special maternity leave

An eligible pregnant employee may take unpaid special maternity leave if the employee is not fit to work because of a pregnancy related illness, or because the pregnancy ends otherwise than by the birth of a living child within 28 weeks of the expected date of birth.

Transfer to a safe job

If an employee entitled to unpaid parental leave provides evidence that she is fit for work, but it would be inadvisable for her to continue in her present position during a period because of illness or risks arising out of a pregnancy, or hazards connected with her work, the employee must be transferred for that period to an appropriate safe job with no other change to her terms and conditions of employment. Uniting Church SA will pay the transferred employee at the full rate of pay for the position she was in before the transfer, for the hours that she works in the risk period. If there is no appropriate safe job available, the employee is entitled to take paid ‘no safe job’ leave for the risk period.

Consultation with employee on unpaid parental leave

If Uniting Church SA makes a decision that will have a significant effect on the status, pay or location of an employee’s pre-parental leave position, the Church will take all reasonable steps to inform the employee of that decision and give the employee an opportunity to discuss the effect of the decision on his or her position.

Return to work guarantee

When a period of unpaid parental leave ends, the employee is entitled to return to their pre-parental leave position. If that position no longer exists, the employee is entitled to return to an available position for which the employee is qualified and suited that is nearest in status and pay to the employee’s pre-parental leave position

Statutory Entitlements

Paid sick leave or other paid leave entitlements provided for in the relevant award or in the terms and conditions of employment, as prescribed by the NES of the Fair Work Act 2009 will not be available to an employee during an absence whilst on parental leave. No leave entitlements will accrue during a period of parental leave.

Length of Service

The period of parental leave taken will not be included in the calculations of the length of service. The anniversary date of the commencement of employment will be extended according to the amount of parental leave taken, for the purpose of length of service and leave entitlement accruals.

Keeping in touch days

Employees can work up to a total of ten (10) ‘keeping in touch days’ (including part days) during their period of parental leave, which is designed to enable an employee to keep in touch with their employment to facilitate their return from parental leave.

Both the Uniting Church SA and an employee must consent to the working of keeping in touch days. Such days are paid days and they occur as part of the parental leave days. I.E. they do not have the effect of extending the period of unpaid leave.

Keeping in touch days cannot be worked within 14 days from the birth date or placement (adoption) date of the child and, the uniting Church SA cannot initiate a keeping in touch day that is to be worked within 42 days of the birth or placement.


All applications for parental leave must be made on the appropriate leave application form and approved by the appropriate manager/supervisor prior to the personnel commencing parental leave.

Executive Officer, Resources Board

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