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The New Zealand Government sets a minimum standard for maternity leave entitlements (also known as parental leave) through the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987. This legislation sets out the minimum entitlements for parents who qualify for parental leave. You may qualify for additional benefits and maternity entitlements depending on what your employer offers and if your job is covered under a specific Award or Workplace Agreement. Below we have answered the most common questions parents have about maternity leave entitlements.

Who is eligible for maternity leave?

  • Currently, if you’re a full-time or part-time employee who has been in their current job for 12 months before the expected birth date of your bub – then you are eligible for 12 months extended maternity leave.

If you are adopting a child under 6 years of age, then you are also entitled to parental leave if you have been working for 12 months before the expected date of placement.

This criteria is set to change from 1 April 2016 as the Government announced the in the 2014 Budget plans to extend the eligibility of paid parental leave to people in less-regular jobs or who recently changed jobs.

For more information on the announcements see the release Government to boost parental leave provisions by Minster of Labour, Hon Simon Bridges.

To stay up to date as the proposed parental leave changes come into effect visit the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

How long can I take maternity leave?

You can take up to 12 months unpaid parental leave to care for your new baby. This leave will be reduced if you take any special maternity leave before your bub is born.

Parents can split the parental leave – so that each parent takes some time off to care their new baby.

What happens to my job when I return to work?

You are entitled to return to work into the position you held before starting your parental leave. If that position no longer exists due to a genuine restructure you should be offered a role with similar status and pay in the company.

When do I have to tell my employer that I am pregnant?

You must inform your employer at least 3 months before the expected date of birth of your child. Take a look at our Maternity Leave Letter which gives you an idea of what you need to include.

For more information relating to parental leave in New Zealand take a look at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.

For more information see Pregnancy or Maternity leave laws. And for the most up to date information about parental leave and your own individual situation, check government websites including http://www.ird.govt.nz/yoursituation-ind/parents/parents-paid-parental-leave.html.