Accessing parental leave, carer’s leave and requesting Flexible Work Arrangements can be tricky at the best of times. While we usually associate these things with women who are mothers, changing roles and care responsibilities within families mean that men and partners may need greater access to these entitlements.

Some workplaces have been slow to catch up with the changes, with some requests for parental leave and Flexible Work Arrangements by fathers and partners being met with apparent bafflement by management.

For this reason, it’s important for fathers and partners to be aware of their rights.

Excluding some leave related to pregnancy, parental leave and Flexible Work Arrangements entitlements are generally the same for both parents. Under the National Employment Scheme:

  • Couples have 2 years of leave that can be taken – parents can either take up to one year of leave each or one parent can take one year of leave and then request a second year of leave.
  • Where both parents take a year of parental leave, the leave can’t be taken at the same time (except for up to 8 weeks concurrent leave that can be taken at the same time) and the second parent’s period of parental leave must start immediately after the first parent’s period of leave ends.
  • Both parents are entitled to request Flexible Work Arrangements like changing start times, working part-time, working from home, compressed work weeks for example, if they are a parent or have responsibility for the care of a child who is school age or under.
  • Both parents are also entitled to carer’s leave to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who requires care or support due to a personal illness, personal injury or unexpected emergency.

When employers support Flexible Work Arrangements in the workplace it’s not only good for workers and their families, it also makes good business sense. A Workplace and Gender Equality Agency report has summarised that for men, flexibility helps:

  • Engagement and discretionary effort
  • Performance and productivity
  • Dealing with work overload
  • Improving organisational performance
  • Minimising absenteeism
  • Reducing turn over of male employees

This reveals the need for workplaces to get on board and make parental leave, carer’s leave and Flexible Work Arrangements easily accessible for all workers entitled to it.

Your union is there to help you with your entitlements – if you’re having trouble accessing leave related to care or Flexible Work Arrangements, contact us on 1300 322 917.

For more information on parental leave and Flexible Work Arrangements:
Unpaid Parental Leave and Returning to Work
Parental Leave Entitlements and Rules

Please note the above is general advice only. If you would like advice on your specific entitlements, please contact the VHPA on 1300 322 917 or via email at