Pregnancy and Parental Leave
Pregnancy and parental leave
Working parents have minimum rights at work before, during and after they take parental leave.
Full-time, part-time and regular casual employees can take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave to care for a newborn or adopted child. To apply, employees need to have worked for the business for at least 12 months. They also have to tell their employer that they want to take parental leave at least 10 weeks before the expected start date. To find out more, visit the Applying for parental leave page.
Pregnancy and children
It’s illegal to discriminate against an employee because of pregnancy or family and carer’s responsibilities. For example, an employer can’t demote or fire an employee because she is pregnant or because he or she has caring responsibilities - this could be discrimination under the Fair Work Act 2009. See our Discrimination section for more information.
Returning to work
There are also protections for employees who are on parental leave and when they come back to work.
If an employer’s business changes while an employee is on parental leave and there will be significant effects to the employee’s job, the employer must consult with the employee while they are on leave - they can’t wait until they return.
When the employee comes back to work, they have the right to come back to the job they had before they went on leave. They also have the right to request flexible working arrangements. This can include changing hours of work or start and finish times, becoming part-time or working from home. Requests can only be rejected if there are reasonable business grounds.
See ourFlexible working arrangements section and Consultation & cooperation in the workplace Best Practice Guide for more information and assistance.
Best Practice Tip
Communication is the key. If you’re planning on taking parental leave, talk to your employer as soon as you can to make sure that they have enough time to make arrangements for your job.
If you’re an employer and your employee takes parental leave, make sure you consult with them if there are any changes that might affect their work and stay in touch with them to help them stay engaged with the workplace. Make sure they’re comfortable talking to you about their plans when they come back to work so you can work together to find a flexible solution that meets both your needs.