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Parental leave

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.

How it works

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:

  • agreed by the employee and employer
  • directed by a doctor or midwife
  • it becomes too hard for a pregnant employee to do their job safely or adequately and no other suitable work is available at an earlier date specified by the employer.

Special leave for pregnant employees

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.

Partner’s leave

Fathers or partners are entitled to:

  • one week of unpaid leave if they’ve worked for you for six months for at least an average of 10 hours a week, or
  • two weeks of unpaid leave if they’ve worked for you for 12 months for at least an average of 10 hours a week.

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.

Returning to work

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:

  • consider a flexible work arrangement, eg job sharing, to help keep valuable experience within your company
  • offer an incentive to encourage them to return, eg a cash bonus after they’ve been back at work for a set period of time.

Keeping in touch days(external link) — Employment New Zealand

Parental leave(external link) — Employment New Zealand

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