by lisa levison

May 3, 2017

Paid Parental Leave when you are self employed

**updated June 2020.

I’m in A LOT of Facebook groups targeted to mums and also mums in business. Lately I’ve noticed an increase in questions relating to receiving your 18 weeks of Paid Parental Leave when you are self employed. Yes, you are definitely entitled to receive Paid Parental Leave if you are self employed.

The tests that you have to pass are exactly the same as if you were an employee but most of the information you read online seems to focus on employees. So here are answers to the most common questions.

1.How do you prove that you have met the Work Test?

The Work Test states that you must complete paid work for 330 hours over 10 months within the 13 month period before your due date/date of birth. This does not mean that your business has to make a profit or any money at all. You just need to have been working towards making a financial gain during this time. Volunteer work does not meet the Work Test.

So how do you show how much you have worked in the unlikely event that Centrelink ask you to prove your hours of work?

• Keep a detailed diary of hours worked. Write it down or use a spreadsheet and actually record each day of work and how many hours you spent working.
• If you bill by the hour, use your invoices to show the services provided
• If your clients book in a time to see you, show your schedule of bookings.
• Use your Tax Return or Financial Statements if your can you relate the amount or sales your business has to the number of hours that it takes to make a sale

2. What can you do in your business while receiving Paid Parental Leave?

You cannot perform paid work while you are receiving Paid Parental Leave. When you are self employed, the definition of paid work is where your purpose is to carry out work to make a profit. The only paid work that is allowed, and you can still get paid during this time, is to perform tasks where you are only overseeing the business, performing administrative tasks or other ad hoc activities to keep your business going.

These can include paying an account, checking the delivery of an order, arranging a repair or dealing with a dispute. Notice these examples are administrative as they don’t create a sale or income, which is how you should think about an activity that you want to perform in your business during this time. There is nothing to stop you employing someone else or even getting your mum to perform the tasks that will earn an income for your business.

There are big changes being made to how you can take your Paid Parental Leave for babies born after 1 July 2020. These changes will give much more flexibility to parents that are self employed. Further details can be found in this post

3. What about ‘keeping in touch days?’

These don’t apply if you are on Paid Parental Leave when you are self employed. The legislation specifically refers to a keeping in touch day’ for people other than self employed. Also, these 10 days are not designed for employees to be performing their usual paid jobs but to keep up to date with training and meetings to help prepare them for a return to work.

Where should you start with applying for Paid Parental Leave? Here with your free checklist:

I have created a free checklist for you to download. It will help you to gather the exact information you will need when you sit down and prepare your application. Enter your details below and the PPL Checklist will be emailed to you.

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  1. I’m wondering if social media posts are counted as working towards making a profit?? If they are, couldn’t we argue that they were all scheduled months in advance and therefore the work was done prior to receiving the $ ?

    1. Hi Marnie, the legislation is very vague in what is ‘work’ and what isn’t when receiving PPL. It says that when self employed you cannot be ‘actively engaged in running or maintaining the daily operations of the business’ but an occasional administrative task is ok. In my opinion an occasional social media post would be an occasional administrative task. If you did schedule it in advance that would be even better! However if you were running a social media agency then that would definitely be working.

  2. Hi Lisa
    Great post & download thank you! I’m just wondering if as a sole trader you can still be invoicing some clients with the work completed by an assistant during the time that you’re on PPL? My concern is that I need to pay someone to keep my business running but I won’t actually be doing the work. And whether this would affect things with Centrelink?

    1. Hi Miranda,
      Thanks! What you have described is exactly what you should be doing. You are allowed to perform the occasional administrative tasks to keep the business running. The examples given in the law include: paying an account, checking the delivery of an order, fixing adhoc disputes and arranging repairs.
      Once you become involved in the day to day running of the business you are considered to have ‘returned to work,’ which is not allowed.

  3. Hi Lisa,

    I own a beauty salon & rent my rooms out… can I still receive rent to cover my salon expenses? (rent, electricity etc) & still receive the PPL?? I won’t be seeing any clients during the 18 weeks.

    Thanks
    Haley

    1. Hi Haley,
      Yes you can rent the rooms out. You can keep your entire salon running as normal as long as you personally are not doing the work. So from what you have described, by not seeing clients for the 18 weeks that would enable you to meet the requirements to receive Paid Parental Leave. Paying the bills would also be allowed as some admin work can be done.

  4. Hi Lisa
    Thanks for the information! I have a small online business that sells baby products mainly on Etsy. Do you know if I’m allowed to keep this running, by having my husband fulfil orders when he’s home? I’m thinking I would have to add this onto his income for the 18 weeks though correct?

    1. Hi Kira,
      Yes, that would definitely work. You can oversee his work but you cannot be the one doing the day to day running of your business. You are allowed to take care of admin, paying bills etc but not do what you would do on a regular day. You are not required to pay him a salary and it is still your business, but I can’t give you any specific tax advice here! You could keep a record of the days that he was fulfilling orders and how many he did in case anyone ever asks?

    1. Hi Anya, the law actually mentions that it recognises that those who are self employed will still need to oversee their business and perform the occasional administrative task. This will be different for each business and if it means contacting a client to deal with a dispute or even to send them an email with a photo of your bub then this fits into that category. You can contact them to keep in touch. What you cant do is actually perform work for a client that generates income for your business as that then steps into ‘maintaining the operations of your business’ and then you will be considered to have returned to work.

  5. Hi Lisa, thanks for all the wonderful info. I am a wedding photographer & require deposits to lock in my clients dates (for later in the year). There would be no work involved until PPL is finished. If my husband is the one to do the emails/ creating invoices – can you charge/accept booking fee’s whilst on PPL?
    Many thanks!
    Jemma

    1. Hi Gemma, if your husband does all of the emails and creating invoices then yes definitely he can charge and accept bookings while on PPL. It’s all about the type of work that you personally perform while receiving PPL and it’s not uncommon for those running businesses by themselves to employ someone else during this time or get a family member involved, (packing orders etc). As someone who is self employed, the law does allow for you to ‘oversee’ the business and to perform the occasional ad-hoc task. One of the ad-hoc examples provided is payment of accounts. You could do these tasks occasionally but I wouldn’t do this on a regular basis as the law also says that once you are ‘actively engaged in running or maintaining the daily operations of the business’ then you will be considered to have returned to work. There’s probably an argument either way that taking bookings and deposits may be considered ‘running the business.’

  6. Hi Lisa, my business is a recruitment offering. Am I able to submit an invoice to a client during PPL if the work was all done last year. The invoice typically is sent once a candidate starts. In this instance it was a very delayed start date. Or do I have to wait until my PPL is finished? Thank you

    1. Hi Alex,
      You are allowed to do ad-hoc administrative tasks during your Paid Parental Leave so a once off invoice would be fine. If it becomes a regular thing then you might start giving the impression that you have returned to the day to day running of your business, but once is ok.

      1. Hi Lisa,

        I have not been receiving any shifts from my current employer due to Covid. I am still employed but I have not been working any hours since March and they seem unsure when shifts will start again. I was thinking of starting a business through Etsy selling nursery decor that I handmade. Would this count towards PPL? I am not due until the beginning of August but have been working with my current employer for the last year and a half, thankyou I am so worried as we planned bub around my PPL.

        1. Hi Michelle,
          Sorry for the delay! The hours spent working in your etsy business will count towards PPL if you are doing the work with the intention of getting paid for it. What I would say is that you would need to really show that it is being done as a business and not as a hobby. In my opinion that would mean registering an ABN, keeping a record of the hours that you spend creating the decor and then promoting your work, issue invoices etc. Hopefully you also get some shifts back soon – you can do both and count the hours of both.

  7. Hi Lisa, I am a self employed nanny working for a family. I get paid hourly and the money is deposited into my account. I will need to work out my expenses and pay tax at the EFOY. Would I still be legible for paid parental leave when I have a baby? How does this work? Thanks

    1. Hi Emma, there are a number of tests around whether you are eligible for Paid Parental Leave. The easiest to check is that you are an Australian resident and earned less than $150,000 in the last financial year. The big test is whether you have worked for 330 hours over a 10 month period in the 13 months before your due date as mentioned in the article. Your expenses and tax payment don’t come into the calculation. If you meet these 3 tests then you can apply for Paid Parental Leave.

  8. Hi there
    I didn’t register for tax because my business won’t earn near enough to have to pay tax each financial year. Would I still be able to claim PPL?
    I opened the business in Sep 2017, I registered an ABN in March 2018, and baby is due Jan 2019….

    1. Hi Holly, I’m assuming that because you have an ABN that you also have a tax file number? There is no minimum amount that you need to earn for Paid Parental Leave or how much tax your business pays, actually you cant earn over $150,000 in the last financial year before you apply! You also need to be an Australian resident and meet the work test of 330 hours in a 10 month period within the 13 months before your due date. As you set up your business more than 13 months before your due date you have the 13 months available for the test.

      I’ve actually got another article that explains Paid Parental Leave and your tax return: https://yourfamilybudget.com.au/is-paid-parental-leave-taxable/

  9. Hi,

    I’m an Australian Citizen who was self employed with my own beauty business while living in america. I had my baby in america but came back to live in Australia when he was 4 months. Am I still eligible for paid parental if my business doesn’t have an abn in Australia? Thanks!

    1. Hi Ell,
      Firstly, you don’t say how old your baby is now. If they are more than 1 year old then it’s too late to claim anything at all.

      I also assume that you are either an Australian citizen or permanent resident. Working overseas still counts towards the number of hours that you need to qualify. Not having an ABN shouldnt be a problem although you do need to show proof that you have worked enough hours to qualify.

      The main issue I wonder for you is if you were overseas for more then 56 weeks? If you were away for more then 56 weeks up until you returned home then you wont meet the residency requirements to be eligible for Paid Parental Leave.

      Hope that all makes sense,
      Lisa

      1. Hi, I am wondering if the process leading up to launching a business is counted as work? For example say my business will be launching by September but I have been working on product development, website, social media etc etc for the last few months and have a baby 10 months from now? Would this be eligible for ppl.

        1. Hi Bianca, I’ve had a very similar question before so I’ll copy that response here too: The law doesn’t mention anything specifically about setting up a business, it’s so vague about self employment! What it does say is that you must be undertaking paid work. The definition of paid work includes the following paragraph about being self employed:

          ‘A person who is regarded as self-employed, performs paid work on a day if the person performs work for the purpose of a business that is carried on by the person. The business must be carried on for profit, that is, not entirely for a charitable purpose. A person ‘controls’ an entity if the person has the capacity to determine the outcome of decisions about the entity’s financial and operating policies.’

          My interpretation of that is that everything you do in setting up a business must be directly related to the idea that you are planning to earn an income from that business – and that does sound like what you are doing. You should keep detailed notes on all of this time that you spend, what you did on each day that you worked towards this and how it helped towards you being paid for your work. There’s no simple yes/no answer for this one so you need to be prepared in case Centrelink ask you to justify the hours that you have worked.
          Hope that helps!
          Lisa

  10. Hi Lisa,
    I can’t seem to find the answer to the following question anywhere on Department of human services webpage, centrelink, or the paid parental leave act 2010 (although the language here is hard to decipher!).
    Anyway my question is: As a self employed mother, am I only entitled to take my paid parental leave from the Date of birth of my child and 18 weeks max after this OR can I take it at any time before my child turns 1.

    1. Hi Talita, You can take your 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay at any time in the first 12 months. When you apply you specify the dates that you want it to start and as long as it starts before your child is 34 weeks old you will fit the whole amount into the timeframe. BUT you cannot work from the date of birth until the end of your payment period. This is the same rule for self employed and employees. Let me know if that doesn’t answer you question. Lisa

  11. Hi Lisa, i’m a sole trader and some clients pay me for already completed work through a payment plan or direct debit on a weekly or monthly bases. These payments into my account are entirely automated. Will it be ok to receive those during PPL?

    1. Hi Nathalie, Yes you can continue to receive payments during PPL. You just cannot perform your normal everyday duties as part of your business. Lisa

  12. my case is quite complicated. I worked for an employer for 9.5 years and resigned and effective from 13 July.
    From 5 Feb 17 til 11 March 18 was the parental leave and I returned to work for 4 months. And I started my business with an ABN from mid Aug, as I feel pregnant, will I get gov parental leave paid?
    Do I meet the work test?!

    1. Hi Vicky, What I would suggest is that you plan out your dates and calculate if you believe you will reach 330 hours in 10 months within 13 months before the birth without a break of 56 days of no work. So, how good are your spreadsheet skills?? Start with your due date at the top and drag down the dates by 392 rows to give you your 13 months. Then put in the number of hours that you believe you will work on each of those days. So any dates from the previous unpaid parental leave will likely have no working hours. The 4 months will have working hours and then you just need to determine the amount of work that you were doing from mid August once you started working under your ABN. (Use my advice from the blog post). Then look for a period within these dates where you worked over 330 hours in a block over 295 days (the 10 months). Hope that helps!

  13. Hi,

    I recently made a PPL claim and have been requested to provide further information related to proof of work and proof of income.

    I am self employed having just started a business about 12 months before I gave birth and estimate I worked approx. 10 hours a week on average for those 12 months . I have an ABN, most of the work was establishing the business, website, marketing material, etc The few clients I had I didn’t make much money from.

    So without payslip, employment contract etc how do I prove I worked and how do I prove my small income.?

    Many thanks

    1. Hi Katia, the only thing that you can really do in this case is to put together a work diary. I know it sounds like a pain, but list each week, how many hours a week you worked and try and describe exactly what you were working on that week. Describe what you mentioned above and also what work you did to get clients. Ensure that it involves more than 330 hours in a 10 month period in the 13 months before the birth date!

      If you are then questioned about anything, the reference is in the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010, Section 35 (3) – When a person performs paid work.

      It says: A person performs paid work on a day if, on that day, the person performs work for the purposes of a business that is carried on for profit (whether in or outside of Australia) by: (a) the person (whether alone or with others); or (b) an entity that is controlled by the person (whether alone or with others).

      Lisa

    1. Hi Diane,
      The industry that you are in does not make a difference to whether you qualify for PPL. You still need to meet the Eligibility Tests – the Work Test, Residency Test and Income Test.
      Lisa

  14. Hi Lisa,
    What a great article- thank you very much! I have a question please if you dont mind answering:
    I have been working with my current employer since march last year and i have been made redundant today. My last day is 16th Nov and i will get a 4 weeks payment in lieu of notice plus about 4 weeks of annual leave (i had booked 3 weeks from 17th Nov till 10 Dec but now employer is ending my work on 16th Nov. Which means the annual leave will not count towards paid work anymore). I understand my payment in lieu will cover me till mid Dec. I have well over a thousand working hours in last 7 months already. In Dec, i am planning on starting my own side business of being a sales person for beauty range (basically trying to host sale parties and use facebook to sell). I am planning on working an hour or so a week. Will that time count towards the work requirement of 10 out of 13 months? My bub is due on 19th April.
    Thank you very much in advance!

    1. Hi Kelly, Sorry to hear that you were made redundant (I hope it wasn’t to do with being pregnant?). You can count the work that you do for yourself towards the Work Test. Given that your due date is 19/4/19, your 13 months started from 20/3/18 so I assume that is the period that you mention you have over a thousand hours worked. Make sure that you don’t have a gap of any more than 56 days between two days of work (paid work or paid leave) until you complete the 10 months. I would also keep good records of the hours that you do work for yourself, what you are doing and how it links back to earning an income. Centrelink may ask for further information to prove that you worked enough months and it will be good to have it ready just in case. Good luck!

  15. Hi Lisa,
    Thank you for your informative website on PPL. I have a question regarding working hours for a sole trader. Does the time used to set up/ establish a business count towards PPL (i.e. have not yet started actually running the business and earning income.)? I have tried searching through different government websites but can’t seem to find the answer to the question.

    1. Hi Eunice,
      The law doesn’t mention anything specifically about setting up a business, it’s so vague about self employment! What it does say is that you must be undertaking paid work. The definition of paid work includes the following paragraph about being self employed:

      ‘A person who is regarded as self-employed, performs paid work on a day if the person performs work for the purpose of a business that is carried on (whether in or outside of Australia) by the person (whether alone or with others) or an entity that is controlled by the person (whether alone or with others). The business must be carried on for profit, that is, not entirely for a charitable purpose. A person ‘controls’ an entity if the person has the capacity to determine the outcome of decisions about the entity’s financial and operating policies.’

      My interpretation of that is that everything you do in setting up a business must be directly related to the idea that you will earn an income from that business. You should keep detailed notes on all of this time that you spend, what you did on each day that you worked towards this and how it helped towards you being paid for your work.

      Hope that helps!
      Lisa

  16. Hi Lisa,

    I started working from 14/05/2018 and finished on 6/11/2018. I worked more than 330 hours in this working period. I set up an ABN as a Bookkeeper in June 2018, I am a sole trader for a Bookkeeping/Tax Agent since July 2018 but they haven’t had much work for me. I also do the admin/bookkeeping work for my family or friend’s business couple of hours a week and they pay through the direct debit or cash. Am I eligible for PLP? My bub is due on 9/6/2019. Thanks

    1. Hi Mary, although you have completed the 330 hours required, you still need to ensure that you continue working for 10 months out of the 13 months before your due date with no gap of more than 56 days between 2 working days. What I suggest is you create a spreadsheet and list all the days between your due date of 9/6/19 and 392 days before that (13 months) which is 13/5/18. Write down each day when you were working and how many hours you worked on that day. Include the bookkeeping work as it is paid work. Then you can easily see if you have gaps within the 10 months that started 13/5/18 of more than 56 days between two work days from now on. Good luck!

  17. Hi Lisa, i meet all the working hours and 10 months continuously working. But does online paid survey consider a self employed? Thanks

    1. Hi Nata, I think you would struggle to convince Centrelink that online paid surveys are work under self employment – that’s my opinion. However it depends on how you are doing this. Have you set up a business, that you have control of, that is earning income from paid surveys? Do you do this under an ABN? Then you could could possibly convince them! Lisa

      1. Hi lisa,thanks for your informations!
        Im a self employed with small salon business if i not working for 12 weeks after baby born ,can i still have PPL??it is comecial but also residencial upstair so rental payment ,electricity,water,gas bill will be paid from my business account autimatically every month even if i dont work for 12 weeks After baby born .because im living here too .what should i do if i want to get PPL with this situation???

        1. Hi Shine,
          You can receive PPL for the 12 weeks after you baby was born BUT I am concerned that you may have since returned to work after the 12 weeks. If you didnt apply for your PPL when your baby was born then you can only apply for it to begin now. But if you have returned to work then you cant apply for it to be back dated and you have missed the time to apply.
          If you have not yet have your baby then I would make sure that you apply now and include the dates to start your PPL to be from the date of birth. You will still be eligible even though you are living upstairs and paying the bill but you cannot work during this time. Hope this helps!
          Lisa

  18. If you are employed as well as own a side business that sales don’t generate an income (all money from sales goes towards stock) do you have to shut down a website so no sales happen while you are on paid parental leave from your employment? I know you can’t actively advertise or promote but are occasional non sales posts on Facebook ok? What do you do about sales that come through the website on their own?

    1. Hi Sammy, you dont have to shut down the website. The side business can still keep running and take orders – but you cannot work on the business yourself. You will need to find someone else to pack the orders that come in, purchase new stock and do the general ‘running of the business.’ You can still oversee the business and do the occasional administrative task. Examples of administrative tasks in the law include: repairing equipment, paying an account, checking delivery of an order and dealing with an adhoc dispute. You could schedule all of your facebook sales posts in advance and this way you wouldnt be ‘doing the work’ while receiving PPL. Hope that helps! Lisa

  19. Hi Lisa,

    Does food catering and baby sitting can be considered as own business ?

    I do have ABN on my name, However I was taking money in cash for the baby sitting and food orders from home.

  20. Hey,
    I have a child care centre as a sole trader, I have been on leave for 6 months and had to get a employee to take over my position as the director, the business still runs but I am not working am I entitled to the benefit? I just do admin once a month to pay my workers there income. Note: The business still is running without my physically working there.

    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thanks for your message. I’m going to assume that you met all of the other requirements for Paid Parental Leave when you gave birth such as earning less than $150,000 in the previous financial year, worked the required number of hours for the Work Test, were a resident of Australia and now your child is still less than one year old.

      Your business can carry on completely as normal while you are on leave and what you have done by putting an employee into your role is exactly how the rules work. The only issue I want to bring to your attention is that you cannot have worked from the date of birth up until you finish receiving the 18 weeks of Paid Parental Leave. So if you went back to work for a while after giving birth and then took the 6 months of leave then you wont qualify. Hope this helps!

      Lisa

  21. Hi!
    I’m uncertain whether one would have to be an Australian resident for the entire 13 months leading to the birth. If I get residency 3 months before giving birth will I be entitled for PPL (if all other conditions are met)?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Johanna, as long as you are a permanent resident or an Australian citizen from the date of birth of your child up until the end of the 18 weeks of payment you will meet the residency requirement. The ’13 month part’ only relates to the Work Test.
      Lisa

  22. Hi, I’m a sole trader with an online handmade business. I was wondering how the ATO know you haven’t been working while taking PPL if the business stays open and I have family members do unpaid work for me to keep the business running. The business would make sales during this time and so my tax return/BAS would show an income for the period I was on leave for given the business profit would come under my taxable income wouldn’t it? I’m struggling getting my head around this part! Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Catherine, I better be careful how I phrase this but I can see what you mean! Look at it from the perspective that it is your responsibility to be honest with your entire application and it will be assumed that you are abiding by the rules as you will agree to this when you sign off the application.

      It is also then your obligation and responsibility under the legislation to notify Centrelink of anything that causes you to no longer be eligible for paid parental leave such as returning to work before the 18 weeks are up.

      Yes your returns will show that your business has made income during this time (and if you are a sole trader you will have the income), but businesses are allowed to continue during this time and that on it’s own wont make you ineligible. If you are still concerned then keep records of the time and work performed by family members should you ever be questioned.

      Hope that makes sense.

      Lisa

  23. Hi, I run an online store of handmade clothing which I make myself. If I have my husband and mum do the work while on PPL can I still be receiving payments for my orders- I pay them for the work do- do they need to have ABNs too or how do people get around paying family for running things? Thank you.

    1. Hi Alison, from the perspective of the paid parental leave law you are doing everything correctly. The business is allowed to continue while you take a step back and others can continue to pack orders etc on your behalf. Whether or not you decide to pay them is completely up to you but I would record the hours that they spend doing the work if you don’t pay them in case you are ever asked to prove that you were not doing the work yourself. Lisa

  24. Hi Lisa,
    I started working for the family business at the beginning of April. Due to running costs I do not get paid for all the hours I work. I am not registered as one of the business owners, but I do the work because I am living for free at my parents house. How would I prove this and am I still eligible for parental leave pay?

    1. Hi Kathryn,
      To meet the work test you must be doing Paid Work – rather than volunteer work. However Paid Work can also include work for a non-cash financial benefit. Examples given of a non-cash financial benefit are the use of a car, employer contributions of rent on a home or to school fees. So you should record how your working hours offset the rent that you would be paying elsewhere to show that you are actually working for financial gain or benefit even if you are not being paid. A simple spreadsheet to record your hours worked and perhaps multiply that by an hourly rate that your family would have to pay someone if they hired them instead of you working for them?

  25. Hello, I resigned from my job in Aug 18 and found out soon after we were pregnant. I finished work with this employer in Oct 18 to commence work on my business idea. I’ve been working on my new business now for 6months and am now ready to launch. Is this considered work or should I have registered my business back in October to be eligible?

    1. Hi Kirsty, I’ve had a very similar question before so I’ll put that response here too: The law doesn’t mention anything specifically about setting up a business, it’s so vague about self employment! What it does say is that you must be undertaking paid work. The definition of paid work includes the following paragraph about being self employed:

      ‘A person who is regarded as self-employed, performs paid work on a day if the person performs work for the purpose of a business that is carried on by the person or an entity that is controlled by the person. The business must be carried on for profit, that is, not entirely for a charitable purpose. A person ‘controls’ an entity if the person has the capacity to determine the outcome of decisions about the entity’s financial and operating policies.’

      My interpretation of that is that everything you do in setting up a business must be directly related to the purpose that you will earn an income from that business. You should keep detailed notes on all of this time that you spend, what you did on each day that you worked towards this and how it helped towards you being paid for your work. There’s no simple yes/no answer for this one so you need to be prepared in case Centrelink ask you to justify the hours that you have worked.
      Hope that helps!
      Lisa

  26. Hi,

    I resigned from my work started of this May after being full time for 6 years. At the same time, I have a small online business I’ve been doing for years. I have an ABN number, Paypal transactions from customers, Invoices for the fees I pay every month from the past few years to maintain the website and bank statements for all the income I made from the business.

    My question is am I still eligible for PPL as a self-employed starting from May? My baby is due in November. I clocked more than 1000 working hours from the full time job from October 2018 (start of the 13 months period) until May 2019.

    Now I spend about 2 hours every day on the online selling (listing stock, answering questions, sending parcels, etc.). Do I need to submit all the above supporting documents when I apply for PPL if I’m eligible as self-employed? As when I checked the PPL claim form, they don’t really have an option for me to submit the documents.

    Thank you for your time.
    Jas

    1. Hi Jas, sorry I missed this comment! You are definitely eligible for PPL even though you will be self employed from May. The application will ask if you have met the requirements of working for 10 out of the 13 months and if you have worked for 330 hours during this time. You wont need to actually send in any proof with your application. However if you are ever audited you will need to show the number of hours that you have been working during this time that you are self employed. I would keep a diary, perhaps in a spreadsheet, of all hours worked and keep the invoices and bank statements if you are ever asked for them. The chance of this happening if very small but better to be safe to meet the Work Test!
      Lisa

      1. Hi Lisa,
        Thank you for the helpful information!
        I returned to work in November 2019 after 1 year of unpaid maternity leave. I returned as a casual employee. I fell pregnant soon after starting back and I’m due 24th August 2020. My hours depend on how busy the company is but I also have a side Business that I’ve started, hiring out Glamping tents and equipment. I’ve applied for an ABN. At this stage I have a few bookings. Just wondering how I can declare my business income? Do I need to register for GST in order to meet the requirements for PPL? Towards the end of pregnancy I will Stop my casual job and continue working on my business so I should meet the requirement of working 10 months. I am keeping a detailed diary of hours worked and bookings made. I wasn’t planning on giving invoices to customers, Do I have to do this? Will Centrelink ask for them? Thank you for you help!

        1. Hi Brooke, Sorry for the delay! You need to think about how you would prove to Centrelink that you have worked the required number of hours if you are ever audited by them. So by keeping a diary of hours worked is a great start but I would do everything you could possible do to add to that. So invoices to customers is also great as you can use your copies of invoices to show if required (also helps with your accounting!). And since you have an ABN for your business you will have to show any income from that business on your tax return which also go toward proving the hours worked based on the number of tents hired out. GST doesn’t have anything to do with PPL so you can hold off on that if you choose to, it’s more of a business decision. Lisa

  27. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for all this info. Do you know if there are any specifications around drawing from the business funds (for personal use) during PPL?

    1. Hi Cait,
      There is nothing specific in the legislation about this. Your business can continue while you receive PPL and you can actually be paid for working on your business as long as that paid work consists of overseeing the business or is an occasional administrative task. This reflects the reality that a self-employed person may still need to oversee their business and perform administrative tasks during the first year of their baby’s life.

      It talks more about what you can do on a day to day basis, such as “once you become actively engaged in running or maintaining the daily operations of the business during the PPL period this would be regarded as having returned to work.”

      Hope that helps!
      Lisa

  28. Hi Lisa, thank you so much for all his helpful information. I have a question. I am a sole trader and my main income is through doing markets and online sales. Over the last year I have also started working with three shops who sell my work through consignment. The have a selection of my work in their shop and whenever they sell a piece I get a percentage of the sale. Would they be allowed to continue selling my work throughout my paid parental leave period or will they need to wait until my leave period is over? Many thanks for helping me out

    1. Hi Anne,
      Your business can continue during your PPL period and the shops can continue selling your work. What you are not allowed to do is be actively working on your business yourself during this time. You can do some administration tasks and oversee someone else do the work that you would normally do. Some of the items listed as allowed during your PPL in the law include: arranging repair of equipment, paying an account, checking the delivery of an order, or dealing with an ad hoc dispute. I’ve heard of sole traders getting their mums to do the packing and sending of online orders to keep the business going. You would not be able to do the markets yourself – but someone else could.
      Hope that helps!
      Lisa

  29. Hi Lisa,
    I am a sole trader but working in a medical center. My employer wants me to start working in december or else he would have to take someone else in. So he has asked me to come in for 1 day a week and then progress on to 2 days, and when I fully start working it will be 5 days. This is so that I can transition back into work slowly.
    Will that count as keeping in touch days ?
    Thanks,
    Ann

    1. Hi Ann, oh that’s possibly pushing the boundary just a little! The law says that keeping in touch days are there to enable the person to keep in touch with his or her employment in order to facilitate a return to that employment or engagement after the period of leave. Activities such as training days, planning days and conferences would meet this requirement.

      So it’s not really supposed to be for you to go in and just perform your regular job. Could you find a way to make your initial days about planning for work over the next few months or to up skill in a particular area that could be seen as training? I know it’s very hard in a small business.

      You mention that you work as a sole trader? That might also complicate things as when you are self employed you are not entitled to keeping in touch days. You are able to oversee the work that your business does and complete admin, but not perform the work yourself during your paid parental leave period. Again, the law is not very flexible for sole traders and I’m sure that the only way to continue your business is to do it yourself! Happy to chat over email if that helps. Lisa

  30. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for your article and taking the time to answer all our questions!
    I’m a sole trader working as a copywriter. I’m planning to take 3 months off once my bub is born next March, and then my partner will work part-time for four months so I can return to work part-time.
    My question is: Do I have to take PPL in one go? if I initially take 12 weeks PPL, can I take another 6 weeks PPL later, to get the full 18 weeks?
    Thanks!
    Rae

    1. Hi Rae,
      At the moment you have to take the full 18 weeks in one go. Changes have been announced that will allow you to split the time over two years but that isn’t starting until 1 July 2020. Full details are not out yet so I don’t know if that means babies born after 1 July or that you will be able to start splitting your time after 1 July.

      Lisa

    1. Hi Kay,
      The rules are that the work you do must be paid work, which is work for reward or other financial benefit.

      HOWEVER, I’ve found a little paragraph in the rules that says that ‘Other financial benefit includes non-financial remuneration. As a result, for example, work performed on a family farm for remuneration in the form of housing and food etc. would be included.’

      If you are ever asked – quote the definition of Paid Work 1.1.P.20 in the guide to social policy law.

      Lisa

  31. Hi Lisa,

    For the past 6 years, I work in my Family Day Care business (Sole Trader) for 3-4 days per week and have someone else do the other 1-2 days and I invoice them a ‘consumable and resource levy’ weekly to cover the cost of power, water, nappies, food, art supplies etc.
    So I can spend quality time with my Bub for the first 18 weeks, she is able to work 5 days a week for this time, can I still invoice her the ‘consumable & resource levy’ each week and still pay the bills for food, nappies etc?

    1. Hi Tarryn,

      Yes, you can have someone cover your time while on PPL and collect revenue/levy as part of your business. Your business can continue to run as normal. You can continue to oversee your business and perform the occasional admin task. Examples given in the law of an occasional admin tasks are:

      arranging repair of equipment,
      paying an account,
      checking the delivery of an order, or
      dealing with an ad hoc dispute

      Mostly not relevant to you – but you get the idea. Just make sure that you are spreading out the invoices that you send to her. Once a self-employed person becomes actively engaged in running or maintaining the daily operations of the business during their PPL period, they would be regarded as having returned to work so you want to avoid giving the impression that this is happening even though you are not actively caring for the children in your business.

      Lisa

  32. I work in an office for an employer and meet the work through that role. I am also a sporadic hobby photographer on the side, I run at a loss and generate no profit, however I do have an ABN and declare everything legally, as I should. So my photography business technically has nothing to do with my eligibility for PPL, and I wont be returning to my office job for 18 months in total.
    I did a maternity model call a whole ago, the client got to get a couple of free digital photos as a thank you. However she has dragged her feet choosing her images and now she has chosen them she wants to purchase a few extra from her gallery, unfortunately I have just started PPL. The photos are already taken and edited, it is simply accepting the money, and sending a link with her purchased photos to her. It would be detrimental to my business to not send her photos which have already been taken of her for 18 weeks. Can I send them? Can I accept payment?

    1. Hi Sarah,

      You are allowed to perform the occasional admin task to maintain your business while taking PPL. Examples given in the law include:
      -arranging repair of equipment,
      -paying an account,
      -checking the delivery of an order, or
      -dealing with an ad hoc dispute

      A self-employed person who is actively engaged in running or maintaining the daily operations of the business during their PPL period would be regarded as having returned to work and that would mean losing your PPL.

      Lisa

  33. Hello! I’m REALLY hoping you can help! Can we claim ANY expenses whilst receiving PPL? My accountant who is putting together my tax says that I can’t claim ANYTHING for the 18 weeks I was on Mat Leave. However my argument is that I still have to maintain my business. I still have to pay bills wether I am actually, physically working on not?! Is he right?? Many Thanks

    1. Hi Casey,

      He’s not right! Your business can continue as normal – but you cannot be physically doing your daily activities involved with your business. (Apart from the occasional admin task). Someone else can be doing them for you but you are supposed to be taking time off away from work. I’m happy to direct him to the right part of the legislation!

      Lisa

  34. Hi Lisa,

    I am hoping you can help me as my husband and I are beginning to consider planning for a second child and do not want to miss out on the paid parental leave. I have been running a decal design business for 11 months now while staying home and looking after my first born. I haven’t applied for an ABN or recorded any of my hours worked as yet. Do I need an ABN and will the last 11 months count towards work? Just hoping to get some clarification as the Centrelink website does not provide enough information. Thank you

    1. Hi Natalie, yes the Centrelink website is very vague when it comes to the self employed.

      You would need to look at it from the perspective of Centrelink in the case that you are ever audited. How could you prove to them that you have worked the required number of hours to meet the work test? Especially if you have actually done the work to meet the 330 hours that you need.

      Do you have a list of orders, could you go back and calculate your hours worked in a spreadsheet, could an accountant write a letter for you, is there enough information in your tax return?

      Since you are still in the planning stage I would definitely start recording your hours worked going forward.

      Hope that helps.

      Lisa

  35. Hi Lisa, my wife and I are expecting a baby in July. My wife is self employed and her taxable income will be about $130k. However, we have just entered into the sale of our shared investment property which will settle before March. This will bring her taxable income for this FY over the $150k income test. I realise this is a first world problem but on any ordinary year she would be eligible. Will she miss out on the PPL?

    1. Hi Sean, yes, if she is above the $150k point she wont be eligible. BUT this number is based on your taxable income from the last financial year from your application. So if I understand correctly, in the 2018 financial year she will be under the $150k? You can apply up to 3 months before the due date so make sure that you have the application in before 30 June and it will use last year’s taxable income, not the current year. If you apply after 1 July 2019 you will need to use her taxable income from the 2019 year which looks like the year that she will be over. Good luck!

  36. Hi Lisa, I decided to quit my job to dedicate myself to writing and even though I’ve been working during that period, I haven been able to be published/ make a sale yet, hence I didn’t mind registering an ABN, lodging any income tax. Is there a way I can provide evidence of my work in that case?

    1. Hi Aline, yes it sounds like this would be very difficult! What I always suggest is to think about what might happen if Centrelink asked for details of the work that you have performed. Do you keep a diary of the hours of work that you do? With detailed start and end times? Have you shown any of your work to anyone who could verify the time you have put into your writing? Is it published online anywhere even if it is for free? What could you show to prove the efforts you have made to get it published? Are there email trails that show these efforts? All of this could help if you were ever audited by Centrelink but it’s definitely a difficult one to prove and they might not think that this is enough evidence. Good luck!

  37. Hi, My husband and I are setting up a our company and have been for the last 6months. (he was made redundant from his job last year) sMy question is because the business is entirely in his name would I still be eligible for PPL.? It has not began trading yet. how do I go about proving that I am involved and currently working towards this opening this company if I don’t receive a wage and everything is in my husbands name?
    Thankyou

    1. Hi Kyla, it’s a more tricky one given that you can’t show any tax returns or invoices for income earned yet for your self employed work. The only thing I would suggest is to keep a detailed diary of hours worked and what specific tasks you did during that time. Then if you are ever audited you could use this as evidence that you have completed your hours by actually performing work with the intention of making a profit for your business. Centrelink can choose to accept that or not.

      (The 330 hours that you require needs to be for paid work. When you are self employed, ‘paid’ work means that the you work for a business that is carried on by you (whether alone or with others) or an entity that is controlled by you (whether alone or with others). The business must be carried on for profit, not for a charitable purpose.)

  38. I am a casual teacher and due to Covid19 I have no current work opportunities. I am due in October and am worried I now will not meet the hours needed to receive PPL. I am in the process of starting up my own tutoring company now (to make up hours) but I am worried, will I be able to claim my hours tutoring now til October as part of my work hours or did the business need to be set up 13 months prior to the baby being born?

    1. Hi Felicity, you can claim the hours tutoring towards the Work Test for PPL. You just need to be doing paid work, it doesn’t matter how or where or for how many employers. Make sure you keep a good record of the hours tutoring and for the time spent doing preparation work. Great idea to pivot your skills! Good luck! Lisa

      1. Hi there, I applied for my ppl after being made redundant a few months into my maternity leave. I’ve received around half of the payments and have been approached about the possibility of starting doing some sub contracting work. The completion of this work would not be for a few months but there may be some time establishing the project while I receive the remainder of my ppl. Would this be considered work? Also do you know if it is possible to claim the remainder of ppl as a lump sum?

        1. Hi Louise,
          Currently it is not possible to claim the remainder of PPL as a lump sum. The definition of going back to work is ‘an hour of paid work.’ I would assume that the work that you do establishing the project you would also be paid for – even if it is at the end of the project. If you are sub-contracting are you working through your ABN? The rules are slightly different if you are self employed. You can do some work in your business, but it is really just admin or oversight work. Once you go back to doing your everyday role then it would be considered going back to work and your PPL payments should cease. Hope that helps! Lisa

  39. Hi Lisa. Hope you doing well.

    I would like your guidance and opinion on my issue.

    I am self employed beautician running beauty salon at home. I have started my salon last year in Jan 2019. For the first six month I was not charging clients for my services (Facial, Waxing, etc). (Clients were getting their on kits) to make my client base for the business. So, there was no income for the last financial year. I have started charging customers from this financial year. Now I came to know I am pregnant in August 2019. I working till end of March 2020. I gave birth on 10/4/2020. I lodged my claim for Parental leave pay and it got rejected saying there was no income last year. They said it has to be paid work to meet work test. I tried to explain that I worked without income for future financial gain for my business. But they said it has to be paid work.

    Can you please suggest where can I find legal evidence to prove myself that self employer work doesn’t have to be paid work. Or what’s your thoughts on this how to defend myself.

    Thanks
    Komal

    1. Hi Komal, this is a really difficult one and I have to admit that when I read this, my initial response was that because it needs to be 330 hours of paid work, I’m not surprised it was rejected. I’m not a lawyer so I’m not an expert in law, nor can I give any legal advice, but I can direct you to the parts of the legislation that talk about the Work Test and Paid Work. All I can suggest is that when businesses are in start up phase then it makes sense to record the hours spent in creating the business as this will be the work that is required to create financial reward. But generally that is for consulting style businesses and marketing to find clients. Here it is a little bit more difficult to show that these are start up costs as you are providing the exact same services for free that you eventually charge for the following year, but that’s all I can suggest.

      Work Test: https://guides.dss.gov.au/paid-parental-leave-guide/2/2/2/20
      https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2020C00148 – Chapter 2, Part 2-3, Division 3, 34.

      Paid Work: https://guides.dss.gov.au/paid-parental-leave-guide/1/1/p/20
      https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2020C00148 – Chapter 2, Part 2-3, Division 3, 35. – This one talks about self employed.

      Hope that helps! Lisa

  40. Hi, my husband was made redundant last year and since then we have been working towards setting up our own company. He has been away preparing and working on equipment we’ve purchased and I am at home with the kids doing all the receipts, marketing’s, accounting appointments, book work ect. At least 2 days a week. I am currently claiming FTB due to the fact the company is not operating and making money atm, therefore I obviously don’t get paid.
    My question is, Because Everything to do with the company is under my husbands name, does that still class me as self employed? And would I be eligible for this payment?

    1. Hi Kyla, Such a hard one! I think that only Centrelink can give you a definitive answer here, but I’ll put in what I can to help you build your case! You need to show that you are working for financial gain or reward (in meeting the work test of 330 hours over 10 months etc). This can include as part of a business whether it is set up as a partnership or as a business operating through a trust. The business does not actually need to be making money – just that the intention is there. If the company was making money, would you be paid wages? Can you show that the work that you are doing will lead to financial gain in the future? Make detailed notes of all the the work that you are performing, how many hours, what you did etc etc. I think that’s the best you can do. Lisa

  41. Am I able to take drawings from my business account (ie money already earned prior to maternity leave) while I am on leave? (I have a partnership and do taxes as a sole trader)

    1. Hi Kristy, yes you can take drawings from your business account. The main thing you cant do is return to your day to day role in your business as that would be considered returning to work – which is not allowed. As you are self employed, the occasional admin task is allowed as well. Lisa

  42. I am wondering if I can apply for PPL as a trustee’s beneficiary.

    My husband and I run a business and get paid as a beneficiary annually. I work everyday for the

    business. Am I considered as a self-employed and eligible for the PPL?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Tricia,
      It doesn’t matter if you are self employed or not – you still qualify under this arrangement as long as you need to complete 330 hours of work for financial gain. These are the exact words from the Service Australia Policy Guide – “Financial reward or gain includes the provision of goods or services for hire or reward under a contract for services, carrying on a business, including as a partnership or enterprise, or working for a trust operating as a business.”
      Lisa

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