Maternity Leave in NSW: The In’s and Out’s

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In 2014, 91,074 babies were born in NSW (New South Wales) alone1 and luckily, in relatively recent reforms over the past decade, Australia now offers parental leave on-par with other leading developed nations. As a mother-to-be, what are some of the benefits you may be entitled to when it comes to maternity leave in NSW?

Maternity Leave in NSW – Payments

Employees in NSW are eligible to receive parental leave payment (paid parental leave) from the Government and also from their Employer, should they meet criteria as set out by the government and work for an employer who offers a paid parental leave scheme2. Many employers in Australia do not, however if you’re lucky enough to work for one who does and you meet the eligibility criteria as outlined in your employer’s parental leave policy, then you may also receive government payments as well. These would likely have been pre-agreed, in your employment contract, registered agreement or your employer’s parental leave policy. The Government pays parental leave to support families financially for up to 18 weeks.

Unpaid Leave

“Eligible employees who are the primary carer of a newborn or adopted child get up to 18 weeks’ leave paid at the national minimum wage.”2 Receiving this payment doesn’t effect your eligibility for unpaid leave entitlements either. When it comes to unpaid leave, employees are entitled to 12 months of unpaid leave and can now request an additional 12 months of leave3. This may or may not be granted depending on the practical business needs of your company.

An interesting trend has been occurring across Australia over recent decades. “Among families with children aged under 18 years old, the proportion of mothers who were employed increased from 55% in 1991, to 56% in 1996, 59% in 2001, 63% in 2006 and 65% in 2011.”4 Given the statistics appearing in this upwards workforce participation rate of females, these figures are likely to have continued to rise since the last report in 2011.

Maternity Leave in NSW for Subsequent Children

If you’ve already given birth to your baby and taken the entitled period of unpaid maternity leave, you do not have to return to the workplace for a full 12 months before you are eligible to take another period of maternity leave in NSW for a second or subsequent child. However, if you changed jobs at any time during your maternity leave, you will have to work 12 months for your new employer before being eligible for maternity leave with them.

There are also special maternity leave provisions available for parents who are adopting children. To read additional information about your entitlements as a guardian-to-be, or a parent-to-be, please click here.

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