Under the Fair Work Act, an employee who takes unpaid parental leave for his or her available parental leave period may ask his or her employer for an extension of unpaid parental leave for a further period of up to 12 months immediately following the end of the available parental leave period.
The Fair Work Act was amended with effect from 27 November 2015 to provide that an employer must not refuse an employee’s request to extend their unpaid parental leave unless the employer has given the employee a reasonable opportunity to discuss the request.
The employer must give the employee a written response to the request stating whether the employer grants or refuses the request. The response must be given as soon as practicable, and not later than 21 days, after the request is made. The employer may refuse the request only on reasonable business grounds. If the employer refuses the request, the written response must include details of the reasons for the refusal.
That said, the position remains that the Fair Work Act does not provide a remedy to employees whose request for extended unpaid parental leave is refused by their employer without reasonable business grounds (although the Fair Work Commission can deal with disputes about this issue in some limited circumstances).
If you have any questions regarding the Fair Work Act or your employment responsibilities, please contact.