Celebrating dads ... Breastfast in bed or some time in the park with the kids can help him have a special day.

Fathers are now eligible to apply for two weeks' paid parental leave, under a Gillard government scheme that kicks in on January 1, and aims to give dads more time off to care for their new baby.

All fathers, as well as same-sex partners, will be eligible to receive the new payments, which will be at the rate of the national minimum wage, $606 before tax.

The ACTU said the new leave scheme also meant fathers now had the right to ask for time off work when their new baby was born, without having to justify the request or fear its rejection.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said the leave scheme was a major shift forward in recognising both parents had caring responsibilities.

Here is some more info about the scheme.

Who is eligible for the scheme?

You may be eligible if you are the:

  • biological father of the child
  • partner of the birth mother
  • adopting parent
  • partner of the adopting parent
  • parent in a surrogacy arrangement
  • partner of a parent in a surrogacy arrangement, or
  • same-sex partner of the birth mother, biological father or the adopting parent.

And, you:

  • provide care for a child born or adopted from 1 January 2013
  • are an Australian resident
  • meet the work test, which requires you to have worked for:
    - at least 10 of the 13 months before the date your Dad and Partner Pay period starts, and
    - at least 330 hours in that 10 month period (just over a day a week), with no more than an eight week gap between two consecutive working days
  • had an individual adjusted taxable income of $150 000 or less in the financial year either before the date of your claim or the date your Dad and Partner Pay period starts (whichever is earlier), and
  • are on unpaid leave or not working during your Dad and Partner Pay period.

Your Dad and Partner Pay period is the time that you take off work and get Dad and Partner Pay for (up to two weeks). Dad and Partner Pay can’t be transferred to another person.

If you’re a birth mother, you are not eligible for Dad and Partner Pay but you may be eligible for Parental Leave Pay or Baby Bonus. The birth mother does not need to receive Parental Leave Pay for the father or partner to get Dad and Partner Pay.

What about unpaid leave?

Dad and Partner Pay doesn’t change your workplace leave entitlements.

If you’ve worked continuously for your employer for 12 months or more, you may be entitled to 12 months unpaid parental leave under the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act 2009. You may also be able to extend that time by up to 12 months if your employer agrees.

If you’re part of a couple and you’re both entitled to unpaid parental leave, there are some other minimum entitlements you should be aware of. For instance, you and your partner are able to take three weeks of your unpaid leave at the same time either immediately after the birth or adoption or, if your employer agrees, at any time in the first six weeks after your child’s birth or adoption. Also, you’re entitled to 24 months unpaid parental leave between the two of you.

Visit Fairwork - Leave on the Ombudsman website to learn more about taking unpaid parental leave and talk to your employer.

If you’ve worked for your employer for less than 12 months, consider speaking with them to negotiate unpaid leave.

When can you receieve the payment?

You can choose when your Dad and Partner Pay period will start. It can start from the day your child is born or adopted, or it can start later. If you’d like to receive the full two weeks pay, your start date needs to be within 50 weeks of your child’s birth or adoption.

How is it paid?

The Department of Human Services will pay you after your child is born or adopted and your claim is finalised.

If your claim is finalised before your Dad and Partner Pay period starts, they will pay you on the first day of the period. You should be able to access the money in two business days.

The government pays the money into your bank account in one instalment. Your employer will not play a role in providing Dad and Partner Pay.

Will dad and partner pay affect other payments?

Dad and Partner Pay is taxable income and may affect other family assistance.

Your family can still be eligible for Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B if you get Dad and Partner Pay, but the government will include Dad and Partner Pay in your family assistance income tests.

They don’t treat Dad and Partner Pay as income for Parenting Payment or other income support payments, such as Disability Support Pension or Newstart Allowance.

If eligible, your family can receive Baby Bonus or Parental Leave Pay for the same child you receive Dad and Partner Pay for.

As an individual, you may be able to receive both Dad and Partner Pay and Parental Leave Pay. For example, this could happen if your partner transfers some of their Parental Leave Pay to you. You can only receive a maximum of 18 weeks pay under the Paid Parental Leave scheme as an individual. So, you could take two weeks Dad and Partner Pay and any Parental Leave Pay transferred from your partner as long as it isn’t more than 16 weeks.

How to claim dad and partner pay

If you’re already registered for Centrelink's Online Services, you can log on and choose ‘parent or guardian’ to start your claim. If you’re not registered, you can register before you start your claim.

Alternatively, you can fill out and lodge a paper form. You can print the Claim for Dad and Partner Pay form from the Human Services, pick one up at your nearest DHS Service Centre or call Human Services on 136 150 and ask them to send you one.