Unpaid parental leave entitlements have been enhanced by the Fair Work Amendment (Improving Unpaid Parental Leave for Parents of Stillborn Babies and Other Measures) Act 2020.
These amendments provide greater support to parents who experience stillbirth, infant death, premature birth and the hospitalisation of their baby immediately following birth.
The amendments ensure the following:
- Employees who are parents of stillborn babies or parents of babies or infants that die have the same entitlement to leave as parents of babies that survive;
- Following a stillbirth or the death of an infant or child, the employee parent’s unpaid leave can only be cancelled by the employee;
- Employees who are parents of premature babies and newborns that require hospitalisation after birth can put their unpaid parental leave on hold during the hospitalisation; and
- Employees cannot also take compassionate leave unless it is following the stillbirth or the death of the child.
Employees may choose to access flexible unpaid leave options in the first 24 months after the child’s actual or expected date of birth or placement, for example, to enable a gradual return to work or shared caring responsibilities between parents.
The commentary in the By Lawyers Employment Law publication has been updated accordingly.