Parental leave conundrum

What rights does an employer have when an employee asks to extend parental leave?

An employee who is 10 months into their 12-month period of unpaid parental leave, has emailed to advise they would like to take an additional 12 months of unpaid parental leave.

Does a company have to grant this request?

An employee who meets the legislative qualifying criteria has an initial entitlement is up to 12 months’ unpaid parental leave.

However, employees have the right to request an additional 12-month period of unpaid parental leave meaning they can access a maximum of 24 months’ unpaid leave.

If an employee complies with the requirement to provide their request in writing at least four weeks before the end of their initial leave period, you can only refuse the request on reasonable business grounds and must provide the employee with a reasonable opportunity to discuss their request.

If you are considering refusing the request, it is always recommended that a careful assessment is undertaken to determine whether accommodations can be made or if there are reasonable business grounds to refuse the request.

Regardless of the decision, you must notify the employee of the outcome in writing within 21 days of receiving their request.

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