Skip to main content

Improving parental leave entitlements

Media Release

The Morrison Government will improve parental leave entitlements to help support families dealing with traumatic situations such as stillbirths, infant deaths and premature births.

"The Government understands how devastating losing a child can be and recognises that the current entitlement to just six weeks of guaranteed unpaid parental leave is insufficient for many parents who need more time before they return to work," Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations, Christian Porter, said.

"That is why we want to increase the entitlement for those who’ve experienced a stillbirth or infant death to a maximum of 12 months - the same amount of unpaid leave parents of healthy babies can access.

"While not all parents will want to use the full 12-months, it is important that the option is available to them should they need it."

For parents of premature babies, or babies that experience birth-related complications that result in immediate hospitalisation, the Government will also remove the barrier that currently prevents parents from going back to work and restarting their leave when their baby is ready to go home.

"Parents have told us how frustrated they felt by having to use up large amounts of their leave while their little one was in hospital, instead of being able to put it on hold until they needed it," Mr Porter said.

"These changes will give parents that flexibility and ensure they will get to spend quality time at home with their child when they leave hospital."

The changes complement other measures already announced by the Government, which will add further flexibility to the 18-week Government-funded Paid Parental Leave scheme and the unpaid leave scheme.

Parents will be allowed to use up to 30 days (6 weeks) of their 12-month unpaid leave entitlement flexibly up to the child’s second birthday. During this time, they will also be able to choose to claim part of their 18-week paid leave entitlement.

While employers and employees will remain free to agree on arrangements that suit their specific circumstances, these changes will provide Australian families with an improved minimum safety net that offers greater certainty during times of tragedy and more choices about how to structure work and family arrangements.

Legislation to enact the changes to unpaid parental leave will be consulted on in the coming weeks ahead of its expected introduction to Parliament in the autumn sitting period.