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Taking paid parental leave from your business

As a small business owner, you might have experienced how hard it can be to take any kind of break from your own business. Taking a day off can sometimes feel impossible, let alone taking a holiday from your business – or parental leave after you’ve welcomed a baby into your family.

The Federal Government has announced some proposed changes to parental leave, which could mean more flexibility for you with a young family and a business. Here are some quick tips to help you take parental leave from your business.

Know your entitlements

Previously, paid parental leave was only available as one 18-week block. The current changes (correct at the time of publishing) mean that parental leave can be now taken as one 12-week block, with the other six weeks available to take at any time before your child turns two.

According to the Australian Government Department of Human Services, you could be eligible for paid parental leave if you:

  • are the primary carer of a newborn or newly adopted child
  • individually earned less than $150,000 in the last financial year
  • will be on leave or not working whilst receiving Parental Leave Pay
  • have done enough work in the 13 months before to meet the work test

Paid parental schemes can be subject to change, so it’s worth taking the time to find out exactly what will be on offer when you have a family.

Start planning early

It’s important to plan ahead for your parental leave, just as you would for any major change which could affect your business. If you’ve only recently learned that a baby is on the way, you might feel like you don’t need to think about your plans for your business yet. This actually could be the best time to start planning.

The best time to apply for paid parental leave is actually before your baby arrives, so it’s important to get your paperwork organised early. Once you have proof of your baby’s birth, you can then complete your claim.

Allow time for a complete break

For at least a short period of time, you’ll need a complete break. Even if you are the kind of person who will be checking emails right up until your baby arrives, the days and weeks that follow with a newborn are known to be physically and mentally exhausting for parents. It’s likely that you’ll be looking after your new baby without time or energy to think about your business – so allow for that.

Get help with your business

Parenting books are often filled with advice on accepting help when you’re busy with your baby – and this advice can also apply to your business!

If your business has a team of employees, think about who you might be able to train to take on some of your responsibilities. If you’re in business by yourself, consider whether you can plan client projects or appointments around your baby, or start working on finding someone to help you through those crucial first months.

If you run a products-based business, you might find someone (even a family member or friend) is available to help you meet orders while you’re on leave.

You might find there are several elements of running your business you could outsource, if only for a short time. Read our ‘Building your support team’ guides for tips on how to pick the best accountant, lawyer or other suppliers to help in your business.

The key to taking parental leave is to find what works for you, your family and your business. If you would like advice about your specific situation, you might like to speak with someone at the Department of Human Services or contact our free advisory service for general business advice.

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