1. Introduction

Parenting is an important responsibility and one that may be shared between partners. Arc recognizes that balancing work and family commitments can be stressful, and that flexible policies can help ease those challenges.

This guide aims to provide you with information and support so that you can better manage your work and family responsibilities. Be sure to contact HR if you have any further concerns or refer to the Arc Parental Leave and Related Entitlements Policy.

2. What is Parental Leave?

Parental Leave is a form of leave, which can be paid or unpaid, for you to care for a new-born baby or a newly adopted child and work together with your family to establish the future care of your child. Parental leave includes Maternity Leave, Paternity and Partner Leave and Adoption Leave.

3. Eligibility

Who is eligible for unpaid Parental Leave?

Employment TypeEligibility
Permanent Full-Time & Permanent Part-TimePermanent employees can take parental leave if they have worked for Arc for at least 12 months:
  • before the date or expected date of birth if the employee is pregnant
  • before the date of the adoption, or
  • when the leave starts (if the leave is taken after another person cares for the child or takes parental leave)
CasualFor casual employees to be eligible for unpaid parental leave they need to have:
  • been working for Arc on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months
  • a reasonable expectation of continuing work with Arc on a regular and systematic basis, had it not been for the birth or adoption of a child

4. Can both parents take Parental Leave?

Either one parent or both parents can take Parental Leave.

A)  Only one parent wants to take parental leave

When one parent takes unpaid parental leave, they can take up to:

  • 12 months or
  • 24 months, if Arc agrees.

The leave must be taken in a single continuous period (e.g. an employee can't take leave for 6 months, return to work, then take another 6 months leave).

B)  Both parents want to take parental leave

The parents can be working for the same or different employers.

Situation 1: Both parents taking parental leave at the same time

Parents who are married or in a de facto relationship can take up to 8 weeks unpaid parental leave at the same time. This is called 'concurrent leave.'

Concurrent leave can be taken in separate periods. Each period has to be at least 2 weeks long, however, Arc can agree to shorter lengths.

Concurrent leave is part of an employee's total unpaid parental leave entitlement. This means that any concurrent leave taken is deducted from the total parental leave entitlement.

This 8 weeks of concurrent leave is deducted from their total unpaid parental leave entitlement of 12 months.

Situation 2: Both parents taking parental leave at different times

Each parent can take a separate period of up to 12 months unpaid parental leave. The combined leave cannot be for more than 24 months. Any concurrent leave or keeping in touch days taken are deducted from this overall entitlement.

In both cases, leave must be taken in a single continuous period. This means the other parent must start their unpaid parental leave the next working day after the first parent's leave ends.

5. Length of Parental Leave

For how long can I go on Parental Leave?

Eligible employees may take up to 52 weeks parental leave. This can include any combination of paid parental leave (12 weeks provided by Arc), annual leave and unpaid leave.

Each eligible member of an employee couple may take a separate period of up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. This means, between an employee couple, there can be up to 24 months of unpaid parental leave. However, if only one person is taking leave, or if one member of an employee couple wishes to take more than 12 months leave, the employee may request a further period of up to 12 months, from Arc.

The Fair Work Act 2009 ensures that same sex de facto relationships are recognised for unpaid parental leave entitlements. This means that the same sex de facto partner of either a person who gives birth or a biological parent may be eligible to take unpaid parental leave.

Can I change the length of my Parental Leave?

If you did not initially apply for 52 weeks of parental leave, and you wish to lengthen your period of leave, you may submit an additional application provided you give your Manager/HR a minimum of four weeks notice.

If you initially applied for 52 weeks of parental leave, and you wish to extend your leave for a further 12 months (up to 24 months in total), you may request an extension, unless you are a member of an employee couple and your partner has already taken 12 months of leave.

The request must be in writing and given to Arc at least four weeks before the end of the employee’s initial period of parental leave. Arc must respond in writing within 21 days, stating whether the request is granted or refused. The request may only be refused if you have been given a reasonable opportunity to discuss your request, and there are reasonable business grounds to do so, and Arc must detail the reasons in writing.

Parental leave may also be shortened with your Manager's agreement. You must give the Manager at least 14 days written notice of the period by which you want to shorten the leave.

6. Do I get paid on Parental Leave?

How much will I be paid by Arc when on Parental Leave?

Permanent Employees
  • Entitled to 12 weeks of Arc’s Paid Parental Leave. The weekly amount will be paid at employee’s current hourly rate for an average number of hours worked each week during 12 months preceding the taking of leave.
  • Long-term Casual Employees
  • Entitled to 12 weeks of Arc’s Paid Parental Leave at the rate and hours calculated by using the weekly average for the 12-month period directly before the Parental Leave period commences.
  • Fixed-term Employees (Non-casual)
  • Entitled to 12 weeks of Arc’s Paid Parental Leave. The weekly amount will be paid at employee’s current hourly rate for an average number of hours worked per week during the 12 months preceding the Leave. If their contract nominally expires before the end of the Parental Leave they will be only paid a part of their entitlement (up to the end of their employment).
  • Where both parents are employed by Arc, paid leave may be shared between them to a total of 12 weeks or paid to one employee only and will be paid to the staff member who is the primary care giver any given time. 

    Paid parental leave is inclusive of public holidays and will be counted as service for the accrual of entitlements. Employees may elect to receive their Paid Parental Leave at half pay in accordance with the existing pay cycle for twice the duration of the paid parental leave. The annual and personal leave will accrue at the proportionate rate of the entitlement during that period. 

    How much will I be paid by the Government when on Parental Leave?

    In addition to Arc paid parental leave, you may be eligible for the Australian Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme that provides government-funded Parental Leave Pay, and Dad and Partner Pay at the National Minimum Wage. Eligibility is decided by Department of Human Services. Please refer to these websites (1) and (2).

    The Government’s payments do not attract any entitlements and are not considered for leave accrual, workers compensation or superannuation. The payments are subject to tax. The Government’s parental leave pay may be paid before, after, or at the same time as Arc’s paid and unpaid parental leave.


    During Arc’s paid Parental Leave, Arc’s superannuation contribution will continue as normal. During unpaid Parental Leave all standard Arc superannuation contributions will stop. However, you can choose to make voluntary contributions to the plan.

    7. The Application Process

    For soon-to-be Mothers

    To obtain Parental Leave, you must:

    Email HR with at least 10 weeks written notice of your intention to take Parental Leave. Such notice should be in the form of a letter accompanied by a medical certificate with the expected date of your baby’s birth.

    For Partners

    To apply for Parental Leave, you must:

    Email HR with at least 10 weeks written notice of your intention to take Partner Leave or Parental Leave. You should also indicate the length of leave which you intend to take. Attach a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner stating your partner's name, verifying your partner’s pregnancy. You must indicate the expected date of the baby's birth.

    Note: Eligible employees are entitled to two weeks paid Partner’s Leave at the time of the birth or adoption of the child provided they are not taking the Arc’s paid Parental Leave. Partner’s Leave must be taken immediately before or after the time of the birth or adoption of the child. In any case, the entitlement to Partner’s Leave expires after 3 months from the birth/adoption of the child.

    Adoption Leave

    In order to apply for Adoption Leave you must:

    Email HR of the period of Adoption Leave that you propose to take, within two months of receiving your notice of approval for adoption and no later than 14 days prior to placement.

    Arc HR Email: hr@arc.unsw.edu.au

    8. Working during Pregnancy

    Can I transfer to a “Safe Job” before commencing Maternity Leave?

    Arc will, wherever possible, transfer you to a “Safe Job” if your treating medical practitioner certifies that it is not safe for you to continue to perform your current duties while pregnant. This transfer will be on the salary and conditions that apply to that position, until the start of your maternity leave.

    An appropriate safe job is a job that has:

    • the same ordinary hours of work as the employee’s present position or
    • a different number of ordinary hours agreed to by the employee

    The employee would need to provide evidence (e.g. a medical certificate) that they are fit for work, but that it is inadvisable for them to continue in their present position during a period because of:

    • illness or risks arising out of the pregnancy or
    • hazards connected with that position

    If this requirement is met and there is an appropriate safe job available, the employee must be transferred to that job for the risk period, with no other change to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment. Arc must pay the employee at their full rate of pay for the position they were in before the transfer and for the hours they work during the risk period.

    If there is no appropriate safe job available, and the employee is entitled to unpaid parental leave then the employee is entitled to take paid ‘no safe job leave’ for the risk period, and be paid at their base rate of pay for ordinary hours of work during the risk period.

    If there is no appropriate safe job available, and the employee is not entitled to unpaid parental leave then the employee is entitled to take unpaid ‘no safe job leave’ for the risk period.

    If an employee is on paid ‘no safe job leave’ during the six week period before the expected date of birth, Arc may ask the employee for a medical certificate stating whether they are fit for work.

    The ‘no safe job leave’ ends when the period of unpaid parental leave starts.

    Continuing to work before the birth

    You must provide a medical certificate stating that you are fit to work on normal duties if you wish to continue working within the six weeks immediately before the expected date of delivery.

    If you do not provide the relevant documents within seven days of your request, you may be directed to take Leave. This directed leave runs until the end of the pregnancy or until the planned leave was due to start, and is deducted from the employee’s unpaid parental leave entitlement. 

    Adjustments to working conditions during pregnancy

    During your pregnancy, some adjustments may need to be made to your working conditions, such as seating or frequency of breaks during the day. These matters should be discussed with your Manager/HR to ensure that you are not inconvenienced in carrying out your normal duties while pregnant. If you need to attend a pre-natal clinic, you are encouraged to discuss this with your Manager/HR, which may include changing your start time or finish time for work.

    9. When can I start my Parental Leave?

    EmployeeWhen can I start my Leave given that I have notified HR?
    Pregnant Employee
  • on the birth of the child or
  • up to 6 weeks before the expected birth (or earlier if the Arc agrees)
  • Partner
  • within 12 months after the birth or placement of the child
  • Adoptive Parent
  • on the date of placement of the child

  • 10. What happens during Parental Leave?

    What happens to my role when I am on Parental Leave?

    Approved parental leave will not break continuity of employment. The portion of parental leave taken as unpaid leave will count towards eligibility for any annual or Long Service Leave entitlements, but not for the calculation of any such entitlements.

    Example: A staff member has been employed at Arc for five years. She takes Parental Leave for one year. When she returns to work after Parental Leave, she will receive Long Service Leave entitlements after another five years of work. 

    What happens to performance reviews while I am on parental leave?

    Your manager will accommodate your performance review in line with your parental leave requirements.

    You will be notified of any promotion opportunities that may be applicable to you.

    How do I organise returning to work?

    While you are still on Parental Leave, you will need to write to your Manager/HR to confirm the date on which you intend to return to work, at least four weeks prior to the end of your period of Parental Leave. Upon your return to work, you are entitled to the position which you held immediately before going on Parental Leave or immediately before being transferred to a “Safe Job”. If your previous position no longer exists, you will be employed in a position that is comparable in status and salary to your previous position. If you decide not to return to work, you need to confirm your resignation in writing, in accordance with the Arc Employee Collective Agreement (2009).

    Keeping in Touch

    There is a possibility of utilising Keeping in Touch Days while you are on unpaid Parental Leave. KIT Days are days in which you perform work for Arc. You can have up to 10 KIT Days without breaking continuity of your unpaid Parental Leave. Please note that unpaid leave is not extended by such days. If you extend your unpaid parental leave by another 12 months, a further 10 days will be available. Arc will pay you for performing work on KIT days as if it were ordinary work.

    Talk to your manager about Keeping in Touch Days. Please note that this arrangement needs to be a mutual agreement between you and your Manager.

    Regardless of whether you take advantage of KIT Days, it is good to arrange with your Manager to be kept informed of important meetings and developments that may affect you and your position (e.g. proposed organisational re-structures). This will have the added advantage that you will be better prepared for your return to work later. Negotiate with your Manager about the possibility of you attending such meetings. If you are connected to email, you might want to be kept informed of relevant changes through this medium.

    Your Manager will also make every effort to keep in touch with you during your parental leave to update you on what is happening at work, promotion opportunities etc. This contract is separate to Keeping in Touch days.

    11. What happens when I return to work after Parental Leave?

    A staff member has the right to their former position if they resume duty within a period up to the child’s second birthday. If a staff member’s previous position no longer exists, the staff member is entitled to return to an available position for which they are qualified and that is nearest in status and pay to their previous position.

    Other Forms of Return to Work

    Consideration 1: Part-time Return to Work

    If you wish to work part-time after your leave finishes in order to phase-in your return to work, the actual time fraction and the length of time over which these altered arrangements will continue should be negotiated with your Manager. 

    • Operational requirements of your position
    • Skills required by the position
    • The availability of potential job-share partners
    • The availability of alternative positions

    Please refer to the Flexible Working Arrangements Policy.

    Consideration 2: Hours of work

    Flexible working hours to help you balance work and family responsibilities may also be possible, depending on the nature of your position. Again, you should discuss options with your Manager.

    Consideration 3: Parenting on Campus

    Arc allows flexibility in terms of time away from your duties to attend to the needs of your child, e.g. to breast-feed; express breast milk, change nappies.

    12. Other Forms of Unpaid Leave

    Unpaid Pre-adoption Leave

    All employees (regardless of their length of service) are entitled to up to two days of unpaid pre-adoption leave to attend any interviews or examinations required for the adoption of a child.

    This leave may be taken as:

    • a single continuous period of up to two days or
    • any separate periods to which the employee and Arc agree

    Arc may, however, direct an employee to take another form of leave (e.g. paid annual leave) before accessing their unpaid pre-adoption leave entitlement.

    An employee must give Arc notice they are taking unpaid pre-adoption leave and the expected duration as soon as possible (which may be after the leave has started) and, if required, evidence that would satisfy a reasonable person.

    Unpaid Special Maternity Leave

    Unpaid special maternity leave is a pregnancy related leave that applies to eligible employees with 12 months or more continuous service, who are not fit for work because they have a pregnancy related illness or whose pregnancy has ended unexpectedly within 28 weeks of the expected date of birth.

    Any period of special maternity leave taken by you while you are pregnant will not count as part of your entitlement to 12 months of unpaid parental leave. An employee must give their Arc notice they are taking unpaid special maternity leave as soon as possible (which may be after the leave has started), and the expected period of leave. You need to provide the medical certificate as supporting evidence.

    13. Special Conditions

    Where there is a stillbirth or infant death

    An eligible pregnant employee can reduce or cancel their period of unpaid birth-related parental leave if their pregnancy ends due to their child being stillborn, or if their child dies after birth.

    In the case of a stillbirth or infant death:

    • if the employee or Arc gives written notice to the other party cancelling the leave before leave starts, the employee won’t be entitled to unpaid parental leave (under these circumstances, if the pregnant employee is not fit for work, she may be entitled to paid personal leave or unpaid special maternity leave)
    • if the employee gives written notice cancelling the leave after leave starts, they may return to work within 4 weeks of giving notice to Arc
    • Arc may also request the employee to return to work on a specified day after leave starts, but has to provide at least 6 weeks' notice to the employee. 

    Whether leave is cancelled or reduced, the employee’s entitlement to unpaid parental leave ends immediately before the day they are specified to return to work. These provisions don’t limit Arc or employee agreeing to reduce the period of unpaid parental leave once it has started, should an agreement be reached.

    14. External Support

    UNSW has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) available to all staff at the University including full-time and part-time staff at Arc. The EAP service is free and operated by an independent company, Benestar. They provide professional, confidential counselling services for employees and their immediate family.

    The service allows you access to professional face-to-face counselling, telephone support, live chat support, as well as a vast library of online health and wellbeing resources. They can assist on a broad range of work and life issues including relationships and family matters. Benestar counsellors are all qualified, experienced professionals with extensive training in counselling and workplace consulting. The contact number for an EAP counselling appointment is 1300 360 364.

    15. Checklist

    If you are a current employee considering Parental Leave, here is a simple checklist.

    If you have any questions, please email Human Resources.