The arrival of a new family member can be a time of great joy and excitement – it can also be a very busy time. Sorting out leave arrangements and requests for flexible working arrangement often get left to the last minute. If your workplace is able to accommodate your request then there’s no problem but where there are issues, it’s good to have time on your side.

Although Parental Leave and Flexible Working Arrangements are enshrined in law under the National Employment Standards (NES), without Parental Leave and Flexible Working Arrangements clauses in your Enterprise Agreement (EA), it can be difficult to come to a resolution if your employer doesn’t agree to your request or there is a dispute.

That noted, there are steps you can take to help manage your own and your employer’s expectations around parental leave and flexible working arrangements.

  • Talk to your union- we can let you know what your entitlements are and how to effectively communicate your Parental Leave and Flexible Work Arrangement requests.
  • Ensure you give your employer plenty of notice of your intentions – this way you can find out as soon as possible what your employer can agree to. If a child is born or adopted into your family and you are the person who will be their primary care giver, you are entitled to twelve months of Parental Leave. However if you want to extend that leave by up to 12 months or you would like to request Flexible Working Arrangements, then giving your employer the earliest notice possible is important. As employers are able to refuse requests for additional Parental Leave and Flexible Work Arrangements in certain circumstances, if you let them know early you can find out whether your employer is happy to accept the changes, whether you need to negotiate changes, or whether you need to make different arrangements altogether.
  • Know your EA! Requirements around notification for Parental Leave and Flexible Work Arrangements may be different under your EA (e.g. the Public Sector EA requires you make a request to return to work part-time 7 weeks before returning from parental leave) so get to know your EA so you are familiar with your entitlements and obligations.
  • Get it in writing! If management agrees to your Parental Leave or Flexible Work Arrangements request, make sure they put it in writing so you have evidence later. While your employer may agree to your request to return to work part-time in a conversation before you leave, this may not be the same story a year later.
  • Update your contact details – under the NES, you are entitled to go back to the position that you had before you went on parental leave where it still exists. For a number of reasons however, your job may have changed or your position may no longer exist when you return. Your employer is required to consult with you on significant changes to your position while you’re on parental leave – if you change your email address, phone number or change addresses, make sure you keep your employer up to date so they can get in contact.

For more info on your entitlements and rules around Parental Leave and Returning to Work under the NES, see our flyer here– remember you may have extra entitlements and requirements around Parental Leave and Flexible Working Arrangements in your EA so make sure you’re familiar with them as soon as you know a child is on the way.

Please note the above is general advice only. If you would like advice on your specific entitlements, please contact the VHPA.