From 1 July 2021 there is a new parental leave policy for NSW public sector employees.

The changes expand on previous maternity leave provisions and provide greater access to paid parental leave to eligible public sector employees, regardless of gender.

Changes introduced by the new policy

Before 1 July 2021, birth mothers and parents who have primary responsibility for the care of their child at the time of birth, adoption or surrogacy can take up to 14 weeks of paid parental leave.

Under the new entitlements, the other parent can also take up to 2 weeks paid parental leave at the time of birth, adoption or surrogacy (an increase of 1 week) – plus up to 12 weeks paid parental leave if they assume primary responsibility for the care of their child during that period (and their partner has returned to work or study).

The enhanced paid parental leave entitlements come into effect for eligible NSW public sector employees who have babies born on or after 1 July 2021 (regardless of the expected date of birth). In the event of adoption, the new scheme will apply where the date of the adoption order is on or after 1 July 2021.

Paid parental leave must be taken within the first 12 months from the date of birth, adoption or surrogacy.

Scheme details

Who is eligible

Paid parental leave entitlements are available to full-time, part-time, ongoing and temporary employees who have completed 40 continuous weeks of service at the time of the birth, adoption or surrogacy.

The new scheme applies to babies born on or after 1 July 2021 (regardless of the expected date of birth). In the event of adoption, the new scheme applies where the date of the adoption order is on or after 1 July 2021.

Existing parental leave provisions apply for babies born before 1 July 2021 (regardless of the expected date of birth).

Benefits of this scheme

Parental leave is for all eligible employees in the NSW public sector who stop working to care for their newborn baby or a child in their care through adoption.

The changes provide more support for NSW public sector employees by extending paid parental leave provisions equally to all eligible employees, regardless of gender, provided they have primary responsibility for the care of their child.

The new scheme helps families to better balance work and family life, enables both parents to care for their children and supports women to return to the workforce.

Accessing this leave

NSW public sector employees will need to decide with their partner who will have primary responsibility for care of their child at the time of the birth, adoption or surrogacy.

Generally, you need to provide at least 6 weeks' notice to your employer before you intend to start your parental leave. You also need to provide evidence, stating the timing and duration of your leave, your spouse’s employment and study status, and the type of leave you and your spouse are planning to take.

Talk to your HR team to find out exactly what is required and how you can access this arrangement.

How it works when both parents work in the NSW public sector

If both you and your spouse work in the NSW public sector, paid parental leave is only available to one of you at a time, except for the 2-week paid parental leave period that can be taken concurrently at the time of birth, adoption or surrogacy. The other parent will need to take the remaining 12 weeks paid parental leave at a different time, when they have primary responsibility of the child (i.e. their partner has returned to work or study), within 12 months of the date of birth, adoption or surrogacy.

Other leave arrangements – for example, recreation leave, unpaid parental leave and extended or long service leave – can be applied for and agreed separately between the employer and employee.

Taking the leave flexibly

Paid parental leave may be taken flexibly within the first 12 months from the date of birth, adoption or surrogacy to meet the needs of the employee’s family and the employer’s operational requirements. This will be agreed between the employer and employee. An employer may refuse a request for flexible use of paid parental leave on reasonable business grounds.