Do I need to be in a company for 12 months before being entitled to maternity leave?

Whether you need to be in a business for 12 months before you are entitled to paid or unpaid maternity leave will depend on a few factors.

Firstly, employers can provide for maternity leave in registered agreements, employment contracts and workplace policies. The amount of maternity leave and pay entitlements depends on the relevant registered agreement, contract or policy with the employer. You should check this with your employer.

Employer-funded maternity leave schemes do not affect your eligibility for the Australian Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Under the government scheme, all employees in Australia are entitled to parental leave if they:

  • have worked for their employer for at least 12 months before the date or expected date of birth of the child, before the date of adoption, or when the leave starts (if the leave is taken after another person cares for the child or takes parental leave); and
  • have or will have responsibility for the care of the child.

So as long as you have worked for your employer for a few months before becoming pregnant, you should be eligible for parental leave.

You may also be eligible for Paid Parental Leave if you:

  • Are an Australian resident,
  • Meet the scheme’s “work test” before the newborns birth,
  • Have received an income of less than $150,000 in the previous financial year, and
  • Are on leave or not working from the time you become primary carer.

Eligible employees who are the primary carer of a newborn or adopted child get up to 18 weeks' leave paid at the national  minimum wage.

For more information, we recommend you look at your workplace policies & procedures, and check out the information from the Fair Work Ombudsman here.

Ask GracePrue Gilbert