Parental Leave Fact Sheet November 2021

ELIGIBILITY

DEFINITIONS & ENTITLEMENTS

EMPLOYER OBLIGATIONS

EMPLOYEE OBLIGATIONS

ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for paid parental leave or primary carer leave, employees must:

  • Be giving birth to a child; or
  • Becoming the primary carer of a child under six who they will have permanent responsibility for; or
  • Be the partner of someone giving birth to a child; and
  • Have worked as an employee for an average of at least 10 hours a week for any 26 weeks of the 52 weeks before the child arrives (it doesn't have to be all for the same employer).

For a table on parental leave and payment eligibility, click here.

To be eligible for special leave, employees must:

  • Be giving birth to a child; and
  • Be attending pregnancy-related appointments such as antenatal classes, scans or midwife appointments

To be eligible for partner’s leave, employees must:

  • Be the partner of someone giving birth to a child; or
  • Be the partner of someone becoming the primary carer of a child under six who you will both have permanent responsibility for; and
  • Meet the six month or 12 month criteria.

To be eligible for extended leave, employees must:

  • Meet the six month or 12 month criteria.

To be eligible for negotiated carer leave, employees must:

  • Be the primary carer of a child under six who they will have permanent responsibility for; and
  • Meet the work time and hours criteria to receive parental leave payments; and
  • Not be taking primary carer leave because they don’t meet the criteria for parental leave; and
  • Have the approval of their employer.

To be eligible for keeping in touch days, employees must:

  • Be on parental leave; and
  • Have the approval of the employer; and
  • Only work a total of 64 hours or less of paid work for the employer during the parental leave payment period; and
  • Not work within the first 28 days after the child was born.

DEFINITIONS & ENTITLEMENTS

  • Paid parental leave is available to employees who worked as an employee for an average of at least 10 hours a week for any 26 weeks of the 52 weeks before the child arrives (it doesn't have to be all for the same employer).

Paid parental leave is paid by the IRD directly to the employee.

Primary carer leave is available to:
    • Employees that are having a baby;
    • Employees whose partner is having a baby, if all or part of the birth mother’s parental leave payments are transferred to them;
    • Employees who are going to have the primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of a child under six years of age on a permanent basis. This may be through adoption, home for life or whangai but it doesn’t include on a foster care or other temporary care basis.

Primary carer leave can be taken for up to 26 weeks but must be taken in one continuous period. Primary care leave can’t be taken if the employee has already taken any period of parental leave or similar leave in relation to that child.

Primary carer leave starts on the due date or the date childbirth starts if the child is born to the employee. In any other case, primary carer leave starts on the date that the employee becomes the primary carer in respect of the child. The employee can start their primary carer leave up to six weeks (or earlier with the employer’s consent) before the baby’s due date or the date on which the employee will become the primary carer of the child.

Pregnant women can start their primary carer leave earlier if:

    • The baby is born before her scheduled leave; or
    • Directed by a doctor or midwife; or
    • The employer considers that the pregnant employee’s work is unsafe or her performance is inadequate due to her pregnancy and the employer can’t temporarily transfer her to another suitable job.

If the primary carer leave starts early (by medical or employer direction as above), the female employee giving birth may still take at least 16 weeks’ primary carer leave after the expected date of delivery birth, even if this means that she will have taken more than 26 weeks primary carer leave. In this situation the additional weeks of primary carer leave is not included in the calculation of the amount of extended leave available.

  • Special leave is available for employees who are pregnant. Special leave allows for up to 10 days’ unpaid special leave for pregnancy-related reasons such as antenatal classes, scans or midwife appointments.
  • Six-month criteria refers to the time that the employee must have worked for any employer for an average of at least 10 hours a week for the six months before the baby’s due date or the date which the employee assumes care of a child.
  • Twelve-month criteria refers to the time that the employee must have worked for any employer for an average of at least 10 hours a week for the 12 months before the baby’s due date or the date which the employee assumes care of a child.

Partner’s leave is available for a spouse or partner that meets either the six month or 12 month criteria. If the employee meets the six month criteria, they may take one week’s unpaid partner’s leave. If the employee meets the 12 month criteria, they may take two week’s unpaid partner’s leave.

Partner’s leave may start 21 days before the due date of the baby, or the date your partner becomes the primary carer for a child under six years. Partner’s leave ends 21 days after the baby is born (unless the baby is discharged from a hospital more than 21 days after the birth. In this instance, the partner’s leave timeframe ends on the day the child is discharged) or the date your partner or spouse becomes the primary carer for the child. If you and your employer agree, you can start your partner’s leave at any time.

An employee can’t take partner’s leave if:

    • She is the biological mother and she has transferred her parental leave payment entitlements to her partner; or
    • The employee is the partner of the child’s biological mother and she has transferred her parental leave payment to the employee.
  • Extended leave is available for employees that meet either the six month or 12 month criteria and may be shared with a partner at the same time or one after the other.

Employees who meet the six month criteria may take up to 26 weeks extended leave (less any primary carer leave period taken). If two parents are sharing this leave and they both meet the six month criteria, they can share this amount.

Employees who meet the 12 month criteria may take up to 52 weeks extended leave (less any primary carer leave period taken). If two parents are sharing this leave and they both meet the six month criteria, they can share this amount.

If one parent meets the 12 month criteria and the other parent meets the six month criteria, the person who has only worked for six months cannot take more than 26 weeks of the total 52 weeks (less any primary carer leave period taken) available to the couple.

The one or two weeks of partner’s leave is not included in the 26 week or 52 week extended leave period.

You can start extended leave:

    • At any time after you end primary carer leave; or
    • At any time after you end partner’s leave; or
    • On any date agreed with your employer; or

If you can take primary carer leave or partner’s leave but choose not to, you can start extended leave when the baby arrives if the child is born to you or your partner, or the date you or your partner become the primary carer of the child.

You may finish primary carer leave or partner’s leave, return to work, and then take extended leave at a later date.

For an employee (and/or their partner) that meets the 12 month criteria, extended leave must end:

    • By the date the child turns one years old if the child is born to the employee or their partner; or
    • The 12 month anniversary of the employee or their partner becoming the primary carer of the child.

For an employee that meets the six month criteria (and whose partner doesn't meet the 12 month criteria), extended leave must end:

    • By the date the child turns six months old if the child is born to the employee or their partner; or
    • The six month anniversary of the employee or their partner becoming the primary carer of the child.
  • Negotiated carer leave is available at the employer’s discretion for employees that will be the primary carer of the child and would meet the work time and hours criteria to receive parental leave payments but can’t take primary carer leave because they don’t meet the criteria for parental leave.

Negotiated carer leave is a period of unpaid leave from work which an employee can ask for:

    • At least three months before the baby’s due date, if the employee or their partner is pregnant; or
    • 14 days before an employee becomes the primary carer of a child.

If an employee asks for negotiated carer leave and gives their employer the correct information, the employer must let the employee know the outcome as soon as possible and not more than one month after the employee asked.

The employer can say no if:

    • The employer can’t reorganise the employee's work by giving it to colleagues or recruiting extra staff; or
    • The employee's absence reduces quality, performance or ability to meet organisational demands; or
    • The employer has plans to make changes to the employee's job position; or
    • There will be too many extra costs.

The employer must provide the employee with a written explanation with the reasons why they decline negotiated carer leave.

  • Keeping in Touch Days refer to the ability to perform work while on parental leave.

While on parental leave, with the employers approval, employees can choose to perform work from time to time so long as:

    • The employee only works a total of 64 hours or less of paid work for the employer during the parental leave payment period; and
    • This work is not within the first 28 days after the child was born.

If an employee works more than 64 hours during parental leave or works within the first 28 days after the birth of the child, they are considered to be back at work. This also means that the employee won’t be able to receive parental leave payments and any payments received after the employee is considered to be back at work are treated as an overpayment.

These keeping in touch days don’t apply to paid work an employee may perform during a period when the employee is eligible for a preterm baby payment.

If an employee is on primary carer leave and receiving a preterm baby payment, the employee may work on keeping in touch days during the preterm baby payment period for up to a total of 3 hours multiplied by the number of weeks that you receive the payment.

If an employee works more than this, they are considered to be back at work. Any preterm baby payments received after the employee is considered to be back at work are treated as an overpayment.

This will not affect your ability to get parental leave payments or take keeping in touch days while you are getting parental leave payments.

For a table on parental leave and payment eligibility, click here.

EMPLOYER OBLIGATIONS

  • Ensure you inform your employee of their entitlements based on the employment criteria they meet.
  • Keep their position open for their return unless the position is considered a key position or there is a genuine redundancy situation.

If you decide that the employee holds a key position or there is a redundancy situation, there will be a 26 week 'period of preference' at the end of their parental leave. This means that at any time during this 26 week period, if there is a position that is similar to the position the employee held, you must offer it to the employee.

If the employee’s position is not being kept open because it’s a key position or there is a redundancy situation, this doesn’t affect parental leave payments. If they have started their parental leave and are receiving parental leave payments and are then made redundant, they’ll still get the full 26 weeks' parental leave payments.

EMPLOYEE OBLIGATIONS

  • Employees must apply, in writing, to take any type of parental leave at least three months prior to the baby’s due date. This must include:
    • The type of leave they wish to apply for; and
    • The start and end dates of the period of leave; and
    • A copy of a certificate from a doctor or midwife naming who is pregnant and the due date.