Paid Parental Leave in NZ Extends to 26 weeks  from 1 July 2020

Parental leave commenced on or after 1 July 2020 will have four additional weeks of Government funded paid parental leave than was previous allocated. It extends from 22 weeks (established 2018) to 26 weeks, enabling more New Zealand parents to spend time with new babies without financial burden. Parental leave is paid up to a maximum $606.46 before tax per week. If usual earnings are less than this amount, the employee’s full pay is paid.

This includes paid employment for self employed people. They would receive the equivalent of the minimum adult wage for ten hours per week if they were making a loss in their business. Criteria for eligibility for parental leave is unchanged. Employees are still required to provide details in writing to an employer regarding parental leave including the type of leave, commencement date and duration of parental leave. This may not be a discussion only – it must be formally documented.

If your employee’s partner or spouse is intending to take some of the paid leave, this must also be detailed. Employers may need to assist employees with this documentation and must respond formally within 21 days. If you are unable to keep an employee’s job open for the intended period of leave, you must declare this as part of your response.

The employee will have the right to disagree with this (and it must be apparent in your letter that this may be the case) – and the employee must be made aware that she or he will have the opportunity to consider other similar jobs for 26 weeks following their return to work date should their main job not be kept open for them. Employers do not have the right to decline parental leave and if they do so, employees may call the Labour Inspectorate for assistance on the matter.

The employer must also make it clear that the employee should confirm the return to work arrangement 21 days before returning and make clear the circumstances under which the employee may return to work early should she or he wish to. If you intend hiring a contractor for temporary placement for parental leave cover, you will also need to consider recent changes in the Triangular Employment Amendment Act 2020 – where employers of contractors may be served a personal grievance by an employee placed through a third party (effective June 2020).

If your employee raises a complaint around your management of the parental leave arrangement, it must be raised either 26 weeks after the event took place, 26 weeks from the expected date of birth or date of birth OR eight weeks after the end of any period of parental leave taken. Any problems arising must be made clear by the employee to allow you the opportunity to remedy the situation. If you require assistance, please let us know!


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