It’s wonderful when dads and partners get a few weeks of leave to spend with their newborn. But if this leave is unpaid, it can make a magical time quite stressful.

Waiting for a new baby to arrive can be both exciting and nerve-racking experience. Dads and partners might be wondering – Will I be able to look after my mini me? How will I cope in those first few weeks when life is a haze of night time feeds and lots of cuddles?

Having the help of dads and partners to care for a newborn can make all the difference.

Men’s attitude towards parental leave

Let’s look at how many men currently take parental leave in Australia.

It’s only one man in every fifty. That’s according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In Nordic countries like Sweden and Iceland, the number is as high as twenty men in every fifty.

In Australia, men earn 18% more than women, on average. So that could explain the low uptake of parental leave for men.

Parental leave entitlement for dads and partners

The Australian Government announced paid parental leave for fathers on 4 September 2011.

Two weeks’ government-funded pay is available. Supporting dads and partners caring for a newborn or recently-adopted child are eligible.

It applies where the parent is on unpaid parental leave from their employer. The pay rate is the national minimum wage (currently $772.60 per week before tax).

This benefit is available to workers who are:

  • full-time
  • part- time
  • casual
  • seasonal contractors
  • self-employed workers.

The payment is income-tested and elegibility criteria apply. Dad and partner pay is taxable income and may affect other benefits.

The Human Services website has further information.

Most Australian workplaces remain traditional in their approach to gender and family. That’s according to Dr Amanda Cooklin (La Trobe University). Many workplaces do not offer additional paid or unpaid parental leave for fathers.

So what is your role as an employer?

The Government designed the Paid Parental Leave scheme as a simple process for employers. It is in addition to employer-funded entitlements. Dad and partner pay does not change workplace leave entitlements.

As an employer, make sure you know what entitlements are available to your employees. You should also have in place, for both mothers and fathers:

  • parental leave policy
  • leave request forms.

If you need help creating a parental leave policy or would like further information on this topic give HR Gurus a call on 1300 959 560. One of our highly-experienced Gurus will be able to help.

Written by resident Guru Emily Jaksch.

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