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I’m a sole trader – am I elibible for the Government’s parental leave scheme, and what is the income threshold?

Hi Jen! My husband and I are thinking about starting a family, and I’m wondering whether we can afford it!  As a business owner, am I eligible to participate in the Government funded paid parental leave scheme?  My business is a sole trader structure – do I need to change it to an incorporated company?  And is the income threshold based on my income, or our combined household income?  Help!! Louise

Hi Louise I reckon there is probably never a perfect time to start a family… and it will always be expensive!  Well, more expensive than having no kids anyway 🙂  But for what it’s worth, it sounds like you’re eligible for paid parental leave.  The Cheat Sheet I’ve previously posted might be a handy resource for you, and you can also double check the eligibility criteria here on the Centrelink website.

In a nutshell, you should be eligible for payments if you:

  • are the primary carer of a newborn or recently adopted child, usually the mother (NOTE that from 1 January 2013 the new Dad & Partner Pay will also come into effect, with a further entitled to 2 weeks paid leave for Dads & partners)
  • have met the Paid Parental Leave work test before the birth or adoption occurs – which requires that you have worked for at least 10 of the 13 months prior to the birth or adoption of your child, and worked for at least 330 hours in that 10 month period (just
    over one day a week) with no more than an eight week gap between
    two consecutive working days.
  • your taxable income is $150 000 or less in the financial year prior to the date of
    birth, adoption or date of claim, (note this is YOUR income, not the combined household income); and
  • are on leave or not working from the time you become the
    child’s primary carer until the end of your Paid Parental Leave
    period (so you’ll need to take a break from the business during the period of the payments).

Full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers may be eligible for the scheme – it doesn’t matter what the legal structure is for your business, as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

Good luck with it all!  Oh, and I should also say that though it is a big investment, the dividends are even bigger!


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