An employee may be entitled to leave from work (known as primary carer leave), and financial support (known as paid parental leave) in order to look after a child they are assuming care of.

Who can get parental leave?

Parental leave is not just available to employees that are having a baby. Those that can receive parental leave include:

  • female employees that are expecting a child;
  • the birth mother’s spouse or partner if all or part of the mother’s parental leave payments are transferred to them; and
  • employees that will have the primary care and responsibility of a child under the age of six (this includes carers such as adoptive parents, matua whangai and home for life parents).

Additionally, for full entitlement to parental leave, the person taking the leave must have worked 10 hours per week (on average) for at least 12 months for the same employer before the due date or date the child enters into their care (the full entitlement).

If the person taking the leave has worked on average 10 hours per week for at least 6 months, they will have a reduced entitlement (the reduced entitlement). 

Primary carer leave:

Primary carer leave can be taken for up to 26 weeks for one continuous period. It can start either on:

  • the due date or the date the employee gives birth;
  • the date of becoming the child’s primary carer for employees that become primary carers; or
  • 6 weeks before the due date or date they become primary carer.

In some circumstances primary carer leave may start earlier (even if the total amount of leave taken will be more than 26 weeks). The leave may start earlier when:

  • the child is born before the leave is scheduled to begin;
  • if directed by a doctor or midwife; or
  • the employer cannot transfer the employee to a suitable job, the work is unsafe, or the employee’s performance is inadequate. 

Employees who are pregnant may also take unpaid special leave for up to ten days. This leave is specifically for pregnancy-related reasons.

An employee may request unpaid negotiated carer leave if they are not entitled to primary carer leave, but are entitled to parental leave payments. The employee must request this at least three months before the due date or 14 days before they become primary carer. If the request is accepted, the employee will be able to access parental leave payments.

Partner’s leave:        

Spouses and partners may take unpaid partner’s leave. If they meet the full entitlement, they can take two weeks of partner’s leave. If they only meet the reduced entitlement, the employee can take one week of partner’s leave.

Partner’s leave may start 21 days before the due date or the date of becoming primary carer and will finish 21 days after these dates unless agreed.

Extended leave:

If an employee meets the full leave entitlement, they may take extended leave for up to 52 weeks. If the employee meets the reduced entitlement, they may take extended leave for up to 26 weeks.

Extended leave can be shared between both parents and may be taken by both parents at the same time. Both parents will share the entitlement rather than the entitlement adding together.  It can be started at any of the following times:

  • after primary carer leave has ended;
  • after partner’s leave has ended;
  • the date the child is born or the date the employee become primary carer (if primary carer leave is not taken); or
  • any date agreed with the employer.

Extended leave will end when the child turns one or on the 12 month anniversary of becoming primary carer for the full entitlement, or when the child turns 6 months or on the 6 month anniversary of being primary carer. This will depend on whether the employee received the full entitlement or the reduced entitlement.

Parental leave payments:

If you are eligible for parental leave, you may also be eligible for parental leave payments. 

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.