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Common Workplace Relations Questions

Our male employee is expecting his first baby this year. When the baby is born, he would like to take some time off work. What type of leave will this be and how long can he have off?

If your employee has been with you for 12 months at the expected date of birth of the baby, he is entitled to take up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave.

If the employee’s partner is also taking parental leave, up to 8 weeks can be taken at the same time. This is known as ‘concurrent leave’. Concurrent leave can be taken in separate periods, however each period must be at least 2 weeks long.

Beyond concurrent leave, if both parents intend to take leave and your employee is the first parent taking leave, the leave must start on the date of birth of the baby (note that if the employee was the parent giving birth, the leave may start during the six weeks prior to the expected date of birth). The second person’s leave should start immediately when the partner’s leave ends. The pair can take a total combined period of 24 months.

If the partner is not taking parental leave, your employee is entitled to take up to 12 months off and can request up to a further 12 months off. In this case the leave should start on the date of birth of the child or, if the employee’s partner is not employed, can start within the first 12 months after the birth of the child. The request for leave beyond the first 12 months can be refused on reasonable business grounds, however you are required to give the employee an opportunity to discuss the request.

If your employee meets certain eligibility requirements, he can apply to the Department of Human Services for payments during parental leave periods. You can also agree to pay annual leave during the leave period, however personal/carers leave and compassionate leave cannot be paid during this time.

Sometimes enterprise agreements give employees an entitlement to employer paid parental leave, so make sure to check your agreement.

With the New Year commencing, many of our employees have periods of leave scheduled. What happens if a public holiday occurs during this time?

If your full-time or part-time employees are on a period of paid annual leave and a public holiday occurs during this time, they need to be paid for their ordinary hours of work this day.

This payment should not be counted as annual leave, so no deductions should be taken from their leave balance. Instead, they should be paid for the ordinary hours they would usually work on the day the public holiday falls. If the public holiday falls on a day that the employee would not ordinarily work, no payment is required.

If your employees are on a period of unpaid leave, they are not entitled to payment for absence on a public holiday even if they would ordinarily work this day. This applies if an employee is on unpaid parental leave, even if they are being paid annual leave at the same time.

We are starting a two-week project in the near future that will require a group of our employees to travel interstate. What kind of extra payments are required during this period?

If employees are required to stay away from home overnight, you need to either provide accommodation and meals or pay the allowances outlined below.

Where accommodation is not provided, you can pay a living away from home allowance which is currently $495.42 per week. In the event an employee is not required to stay away for a full week, a pro-rata amount of the allowance can be paid to cover all living expenses incurred.

You also need to provide three meals per day. Alternatively, a $15.34 meal allowance can be paid for each meal not provided. This allowance is not payable for any meals included in the cost of the accommodation.

If your business has an enterprise agreement in place the above allowances may be different, so make sure to check your agreement.

Anna Cunningham

Workplace Relations Advisor

NECA Victoria

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