From 1 July 2023, the Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Scheme is changing to a more inclusive and flexible approach. The changes that come into effect in July are the first of many tranches of changes between now and 2026.

In preparation for these changes, there are a few ways you, and your business, can prepare. Read on for our recommendations.

The Changes

The entitlement to PPL will increase from 18 weeks (90 days) to 20 weeks (100 days). These 20 weeks can be shared amongst the birth or adoptive parents (with the birth mother or adoptive parent’s approval) in whichever way best suits their family needs. This is opposed to the previously specified 18 weeks for the primary caregiver and 2 weeks for the dad or partner. This removes the need to specify who is the primary and secondary caregivers. This also means that single parents receive the same entitlement to 20 weeks as coupled parents.

Parents are able to take PPL days at the same time as each other (up to 10 days) and can access it until the child turns 2 years of age (but any days not used before the age of 2 will be lost). This removes the need to take PPL in one block directly after the birth or placement of the child.

Paid Parental Leave days can be taking in any of the following ways;

  • A single block
  • Multiple smaller blocks
  • Single days
  • A combination of smaller blocks and single days

In addition, PPL can be used on days when the parent is not working, including weekdays, weekends, holidays or any time they’re on leave from work.

Employers will only be responsible for passing on parental leave pay to employees who meet all of the following criteria;

  • Are taking at least 8 weeks of parental leave pay, in a block
  • That block is within a year of their child’s birth or entry into care
  • Have been working with you for at least 12 months
  • Will be returning to your employment after their leave ends.

Finally, they have also expanded the financial threshold to $156,647 for each parent and a $350,000 family income, but that’s something your employees can deal with directly with Services Australia.

How can employers prepare for the changes?

Although these changes don’t come into effect until July, it is important to start preparing for them now. A couple of things we recommend doing include;

  • Review and update your current parental leave policy. If you don’t have one, you can check out our templates here and we can get one sorted for you asap. Please be mindful that you may have employees on parental leave prior to 1 July 2023, so we wouldn’t communicate or roll out the changes until closer to the effective date to avoid confusion.
  • Be mindful of the language you use around parental leave. It’s important to note the inclusivity that these changes seek to address, so terms like “maternity leave” are no longer appropriate.
  • Consider whether or not you want to offer additional parental leave entitlements. Offering parental leave entitlements above the statutory requirements is a great attraction and retention strategy so it is worth considering and adding to your policy if applicable.
  • Update your payroll systems. Making sure that your payroll system has the correct functionality to reflect the new entitlement if and when it becomes necessary.
  • Encourage a supportive and inclusive work culture. Creating an environment that supports both mothers and fathers to access their parental leave entitlement helps to reduce the stigma that this leave is only for the “primary” caregiver.

The Paid Parental Leave Scheme is by no means a new concept therefore the adaptation to these changes shouldn’t cause too much concern. If you do have any specific questions, or if we can help you develop or amend your internal documents to support these changes, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Written by HR Guru, Madeleine Bray.

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