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Paternity Leave in Australia: A Guide for Overseas Employers

When an employee has a new child, many countries will offer statutory leave and payments to one or both of the new parents.  Maternity leave for the mother is the benefit most familiar to employers, but there may also be a paternity leave entitlement for the father or partner of the mother.  Paid leave may be provided by the government, the employer, or shared between the two.

Before you hire employees in Australia, it will be helpful to know the paternity leave entitlements and benefits, who pays them, and how your company may be able to augment that to support your employees with a newborn.  This guide will provide those details, along with an example of how one of our clients handled paternity leave for their employees.

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Who is entitled to paternity leave in Australia?

There is a broad category of employees who are entitled to paternity leave in Australia, including:

  • The biological father
  • The birth mother’s partner
  • Parents who adopt
  • Anyone caring for a child born in surrogacy

The test for a partner relationship can be met through registered civil unions when recognized in the Australian state or territory.  If not in a registered or recognized union, the employee can still meet the partner test by demonstrating evidence of a de facto relationship, that is similar to a marriage.

If the employee does qualify for one of the relationship categories, they must also show that they are:

  • Caring for a newborn or new adopted child, during the leave period, and not working
  • Earned less than $150,000 in the past financial year
  • Meet the ‘work test’ of time employed prior to leave being taken

How much time are fathers and partners entitled to in Australia?

The paid statutory paternity leave benefit is two weeks, and it is paid at $753 per week directly by the Australian government.

What is required from the employer?

While the benefit is paid by the government, it is up to the employer to arrange the leave period with the employee, and ensure they are on unpaid leave and not working.

Client Case: Can a company offer additional financial support?

One of our clients with employees in Australia wanted to know more about paternal leave and payments, specifically, if it was permitted to provide an additional payment (AUD $2000) over the government paternity leave benefit.

We let them know this is allowed and does not affect the amount of government payment of statutory paternal pay.  The extra amount paid to the employee would be taxable as income and run through payroll.

Do you need more information about Australia?

If you are new to employing in Australia, you might have other questions such as:

Are there ‘parental leave’ benefits in addition to the paternal leave?

Does paternal leave need to be taken within a certain time period from the date of birth or adoption?

What kind of evidence is required of a de facto relationship with a partner?

Because of the many differences in employment law between countries, our clients bring us ongoing inquiries of how they can remain in compliance with entitlements, benefits, and social programs.

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The information in this article is subject to changes in local legislation.

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