Maternity leave entitlements

If you’re currently working during your pregnancy, it’s important to think about what you’re going to do when you have your baby. There’s lots of factors that influence the decision of when, or if, you return to work, but understanding your entitlements is the place to begin.

If you are an employee, having a baby means that you have certain entitlements related to leave.

Parental leave

In New Zealand, men and women are able to take time off work, without having to resign, to care for their child during the first year of its life. The parental leave entitlement can be shared – find out more here.

You are eligible for parental leave if you have worked for the same employer for an average of at least 10 hours a week (including at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month) in the six or 12 months prior to the baby’s expected due date (or the date you become responsible for the care of a child under six years on a permanent basis).

If you are a contracted, seasonal or part-time employee you are also eligible as long as you have worked for at least an average of 10 hours per week for at least any 26 of the 52 weeks up to your due date or date child comes into your care, even if this was for a combination of employers and/or self-employment, or there were periods where you did not work.

There are different entitlements available to employees depending on whether they meet the six or 12 month criteria.

Unpaid and Paid Parental leave entitlements

Parental leave includes the following types of leave (some of which can be shared with your spouse/partner if they are also eligible).

Paid maternity leave of 18 continuous weeks may start up to six weeks before the expected date of birth or adoption (or earlier if necessary).

Special leave (eg for ante natal appointments) of up to 10 days can be taken for pregnancy-related reasons.

Extended leave of up to 52 weeks is available (and can be shared by both eligible parents).

Partner’s/paternity leave of either one or two weeks (depending on eligible service) is available and can be extended in certain circumstances. If you’re a spouse or partner and you meet the six month time criteria you may take one week’s unpaid partner’s leave, and if you meet the twelve month time criteria you may take two weeks’ unpaid partner’s leave.

For full details , visit the Employment NZ website.

Applying for leave

Apply in writing, at least 3 months prior to the due date (this varies for adoption) stating what type of leave you want, the start date and the duration. If you are sharing the leave with your spouse/partner you need to state the dates they are planning leave, their name and the name and address of their employer. You also need to state that you are both eligible for the leave and that you will not be taking more than 52 weeks.

Include a certificate (or copy) of the baby’s due date from the doctor or midwife. Your spouse/partner will need a written declaration from you stating that they are your spouse/partner and they will share the care of the child.

For full details , visit the Employment NZ website.

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