Having a child can be a stressful time. When working parents know they have an employer who understands and will fulfil their obligations, it can really help.
Knowing what rules apply to parental leave will also help you to prepare your resources for when it does happen.
If an employee or their partner is having a baby or taking permanent responsibility for the care of a child under six, they might be entitled to parental leave.
Employees who’ve worked for you for at least an average of 10 hours a week for 12 months or more just before the expected birth of the child, or the date they’ll take over the care of the child, are entitled to:
Employees who’ve worked for you for at least an average 10 hours a week for six months or more just before the expected birth of the child, or date they’ll take over the care of the child, are entitled to:
Employees able to get parental leave payments can choose to first use other types of paid leave they're entitled to, eg:
They can choose to start their parental leave payment period after they have taken other types of paid leave — even if this is after the child's arrival.
If the birth mother is eligible for primary carer leave, then she will remain eligible regardless of whether the baby unfortunately dies before or after birth.
Employees who don’t meet the criteria for parental leave, eg they’ve worked for you for less than six months or haven’t done an average of 10 hours a week, are not entitled to any parental leave. But if they meet the parental leave payment threshold test and will be the primary carer of the child, they might apply for negotiated carer leave so they can receive parental leave payments.
You don’t have to agree, but you must reply as soon as possible and within one month. If you say no, you must tell them on what grounds you refused and why those grounds apply.
Parental leave eligibility (external link) — Employment NZ
This applies to employees, including those with non-standard working arrangements such as casual, seasonal, temporary and fixed-term employees, and self-employed people.
Parental leave eligibility tool (external link) — Employment New Zealand
Parental leave can be taken by one parent or split between them, as long as they’re both eligible. Primary carer leave can start up to six weeks before the expected date of the child's arrival— or earlier if:
Pregnant employees can also take 10 days of unpaid special leave for things like doctor’s appointments and antenatal classes, before taking primary carer leave.
Fathers or partners are entitled to:
They can take this leave between 21 days before the expected birth, or the date their partner intends to become the primary carer, and 21 days after, unless you agree otherwise. This leave is in addition to any other parental leave they’re sharing with their partner.
Employees are allowed to work up to 52 hours for their employer while on paid or unpaid parental leave (for a child born, or coming into the employee's care, on or after 1 July 2018). Both employer and employee must agree to this.
Your employee needs to let you know at least 21 days before the end of their leave whether or not they’re going to return to work.
If an employee isn’t sure about coming back to work, you could:
Keeping in touch days (external link) — Employment New Zealand
Parental leave (external link) — Employment New Zealand
You can’t decline parental leave requests, but you can decline to hold a key position open if:
When an employee applies for parental leave, you must:
Once you know how long they intend to be gone, you can consider how you’ll fill their position. You can hire someone on a fixed-term agreement to cover for parental leave, or you might want to hire a contractor.
Employer responsibilities on parental leave (external link) — Employment New Zealand