Extensions to unpaid parental leave

Key dates

6 June 2023: New obligations for employers responding to requests for an extension of unpaid parental leave.

Continuous line drawing of a page in a calendar.

What's changing?

From 6 June when an eligible employee requests an extension to a period of unpaid parental leave, their employer is obliged to discuss the request with them. If the employer refuses a request, they are required to:

  • inform the employee of their reasons in writing
  • consider and notify the employee in writing of any other periods of extension the employer would agree to.

Grounds for refusing a request for an extended period of unpaid parental leave include if the extension would be too costly for the employer; loss of efficiency or productivity; negative impact on customer service, or if changing the working arrangements of other employees or recruiting new employees to accommodate the request would be impractical.

Employees will also have greater access to dispute resolution through the Fair Work Commission if a dispute about an extension to unpaid parental leave cannot be resolved within the workplace.


An employee taking 12 months of unpaid parental leave can request up to 12 months of additional leave (up to 24 months in total) unless their partner has already taken 12 months of leave. To date, there has been limited clarity on how employers should respond to such requests or how the Fair Work Commission should deal with disputes arising from an employer's refusal to grant the request.


Before 6 June

  • Consider updating your parental leave policies and procedures.
  • Ensure managers and supervisors are aware of the relevant processes and additional details to be provided to employees upon refusing a request for an extension of unpaid leave.

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