It is common practice for pregnant women in the workforce to take maternity leave for an unpaid period of up to 12 months. However, it is often forgotten that men are equally entitled to take paternity or partner leave.
Male employees frequently encounter resistance when seeking to exercise their workplace right to take parental leave. This resistance largely stems from archaic societal expectations of gender roles, where men were traditionally considered the ‘breadwinners’ and women were considered responsible for looking after the children at home. As our society continues to evolve, it has become conventional for men to play a more active role in raising their children and exercise their workplace right to take parental leave.
Am I eligible to take parental leave?
To be eligible for parental leave, you must have worked for your employer for a minimum of 12 months, and be responsible for caring for the child.
If you are a casual employee, it will usually depend on whether you have work in accordance with a regular and systematic work schedule. You must have also been employed for at least 12 months.
If you meet the above criteria, you will be entitled to take 12 months of unpaid parental leave when your spouse or de facto partner gives birth. Alternatively, you will be entitled to take such leave if you adopt a child aged 16 years or younger.
What if my employer refuses, or is annoyed at my request?
If your employer refuses your request to take parental leave, this may constitute discrimination under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), or adverse action under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Vic). If this situation arises, do not hesitate to seek legal advice in relation to your rights.
Likewise, if you request to take parental leave, and your employer responds by dismissing you, demoting you or do anything else to injure or alter your employment, you should speak with our lawyers about the protection offered to you by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Vic).
What if I just want to pick up my kids from day-care?
If you merely want to alter your working hours so that you can pick up your child from day-care or school, you may wish to submit a request for a flexible working arrangement form your employer.