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8.9 Continuing payments and AE while a person is on pregnancy/maternity leave
It is longstanding policy to offer veterans receiving incapacity payments a period of twelve (12) weeks maternity leave for the birth or adoption of a child.
Incapacity payments continue to be paid during maternity leave for a period of 12 weeks (generally six weeks either side of the expected/actual birth date), if payments would have continued if not for the maternity leave. Payments continue at the established rate of compensation i.e. payment calculations continue to include hours and earnings as if the person was actually working during the period.
Where a pregnancy does not reach full-term, cases will be considered on the individual circumstances.
During the 12 week period, the number of hours worked for the purposes of the "adjustment percentage” in section 19(3) (DRCA) and 131(MRCA) should be the percentage that would have applied were it not for the maternity leave i.e. treated similarly to a period of paid recreation leave or long service leave (LSL), see section 8.10. Similarly AE is set at the amount the person would have earned if not for the maternity leave. In effect the person is ‘deemed’ with an AE during the period.
In some cases the person may take other paid leave such as LSL and recreation leave in conjunction with the maternity leave, see section 8.10.
8.9.1 Person in paid employment with access to maternity leave
When a person accesses paid maternity leave while in employment, the hours and earnings for that leave are considered AE. The will receive incapacity payments as if they were actually working those hours.
18.104.22.168 Person chooses not to return to paid employment after 12 weeks
If a person makes a choice not to return to work after the 12 week period (whether they received maternity leave pay for an employer or not), and the same level of incapacity would have continued, payments are calculated as if the person has returned to work i.e. the person's earnings are 'deemed' and hours are set at nil.
8.9.2 Rehabilitation and pregancy/maternity leave
Incapacity payments continue as per usual if the person is participating in a rehabilitation plan after the 12 week period. The AE used in calculations should only be the amount the person actually earns (if any). This will include any amount of paid maternity leave. The person should not be deemed with an ability to earn on an assumption that they will no longer be actively participating in rehabilitation. Instead the delegate must consider if the person is continuing with the rehabilitation plan or not.
22.214.171.124 Person chooses not to return to rehabilitation after 12 weeks
If the person chooses not to reengage with rehabilitation after the 12 week period, their plan will be suspended and they will not receive incapacity payments for that period. The same would apply if the person was not meeting the rehabilitation plan obilgations. Once the person returns to rehabilitation, and if they remain incapacitated, incapacity payments can recommence.
8.9.3 Payments received under the Paid Parental Leave (PPL) or Dad and Partner Pay Schemes
The paid parental leave (PPL) scheme provides for 18 weeks' pay at the national minimum wage. Eligibility for the scheme is a matter for Services Australia to determine. Payments under this scheme are not earnings derived from employment and cannot be considered as actual earnings. Therefore, they have no direct impact on the level of incapacity payments. However, the policy is that we will only allow exemption from participation in the workforce or rehabilitation for the 12 week period.
Similarly, 'Dad and Partner Pay' provides payments at the national minimum wage, for up to two weeks. As with the PPL, 'Dad and Partner Pay' is not considered earnings from employment, and therefore not considered as actual earnings for calculation of incapacity payments.