The Paid Parental Leave Scheme started on 1 January 2011 and provides 18 weeks of government-funded pay to eligible employees. The rate of pay is equivalent to the national minimum wage. Full-time, part-time, casual, seasonal, contract and self-employed workers may be eligible.

Parents can lodge a claim up to three months in advance. The Family Assistance Office may contact you if one of your employees is eligible.

From 1 July 2011, employers will be required to provide parental leave pay to their eligible employees (funds will be provided to the employer in advance). However, this part of the scheme can start earlier if both the employer and employee agree.

Businesses can register now at www.centrelink.gov.au .