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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.

What parental leave entitlements are available?

Employees can get parental leave when a child is born or adopted. These entitlements include:

  • Primary carer leave
  • Special leave
  • Partner's leave
  • Extended leave
  • Negotiated carer leave

Who is eligible for parental leave?

  • Currently, if you’re a full-time or part-time employee who has been in their current job for either 6 months or 12 months before the expected birth date of your bub – then you are eligible for parental leave benefits. Parental leave can be shared by two parents who meet the criteria, and they can take it at the same time or one after the other.
  • 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 6 months or 12 months before the expected date of placement.

How long can I take parental leave?

Employees who meet the 12 month criteria may take up to 52 weeks extended leave to care for your new baby. This leave will be reduced if you take any leave before your baby is born.

Employees who meet the 6 month criteria may take up to 26 weeks extended leave (less any weeks taken before your baby 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.

Find more information about telling your employer.

Where can I get more information?

To get up to date information go to the government's Employment New Zealand website.

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