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Parental leave eligibility

Employees may be able to take leave from work to care for their new child. Calculate your leave entitlement using our eligibility tool.

To be eligible for paid parental leave, you must establish a sufficient connection between New Zealand and the employment you are relying on to qualify for payments.

You will need evidence that you work for a New Zealand employer, pay income tax to New Zealand, and that your employment relationship is subject to New Zealand employment law.

Parental leave eligibility tool

You can calculate how much parental leave you or your partner are entitled to by using the parental leave eligibility tool.

Answer each question below to find out if, and for how long, you or your partner are entitled to parental leave.

Question 1

Are you giving birth to a child or going to be the primary carer of a child under 6 who you will have permanent responsibility for?


Special situations to be aware of

If you are both an employee of an organisation and run your own business as a self-employed person, you cannot combine these hours to meet the parental leave payment threshold test. The threshold test must be met in each of the types of engagement, either eligible as an employee or eligible as a self-employed person.

If you are a shareholder employee, ie owner of a company that you are employed in, you may qualify as either a self-employed person or an employee. Again, you can only meet the payment threshold test in either your employment or self-employment. 

However, note that if you meet the payment threshold test in each of your employment and self-employment, you can then combine the amount of earnings calculated to maximize payments you will receive during the payment period.

If you would normally have been at work for an hour (or hours) but were absent due to the reasons listed below, this time is still counted towards the 10 hour per week criteria:

  • absent on leave with pay
  • on leave without pay (other than parental leave) with the employer’s agreement
  • pregnant and on primary carer leave prior to the expected date of delivery
  • entitled to an ACC payment for that hour
  • on volunteers leave
  • absent for any other reason that doesn’t disrupt your normal pattern of employment, in the view of a Labour Inspector.

The Employment Court has previously determined that a period of time where someone has been engaged as an employee but has not yet commenced the performance of physical work with an employer will not be counted towards the period of employment with that employer for the purposes of parental leave eligibility requirements.

Usually, an employee's old employer counts as the ‘same employer’ if:

  • a trade, business or undertaking is transferred (eg sold) from one employer to another
  • a body corporate is changed or replaced because of legislation
  • trustees take over the business after the employer’s death
  • there’s a change in partners, personal representatives or trustees who employ the employee
  • the employee is transferred to an 'associated employer' (eg a subsidiary).
  • If you’re a junior doctor working for a district health board (DHB) and you’re required to rotate between different DHBs as part of your compulsory training, your employments with each employing DHB is treated as one employment for the purposes of determining whether you meet either the six or 12 month criteria for parental leave.
  • If you’re a teacher employed by multiple boards of trustees during the eligibility period, your employments by each board of trustees is treated as one employment for the purposes of working out whether you meet either the six or 12 month criteria for parental leave. You will still need to meet the hours of work criteria.

Paid parental leave (primary carer leave and parental leave payments)

Primary carer leave and parental leave payments enable the birth mother to look after a newborn baby as well as to recover from giving birth. If the birth mother is eligible for primary carer leave and parental leave payments, then she will remain eligible regardless of whether the baby unfortunately dies before or after the birth.

The birth mother would still be eligible for 26 weeks of parental leave payments provided that she:

  • meets the relevant eligibility work test as an employee or self-employed person
  • has not transferred the entitlement to parental leave payments
  • has not returned to work since her payment period begins (this begins when she starts parental leave or when she gives birth, whichever is earlier).

This allows the birth mother to take time away from work to attend to her health and wellbeing.

Paid parental leave can be transferred to a spouse or partner if they have (or intend to have) primary responsibility for the day-to-day care of the child and are eligible. However, it cannot be transferred if the mother or spouse/partner no longer have care of the child, e.g. after the death of the child or removal from care. If it has been transferred prior to the loss of care, then it ends on the date of the loss of care.

Unpaid extended leave

The entitlement to extended leave requires an employee to care for a child, which means this eligibility requirement is no longer met if the child they are caring for or intend to care for unfortunately dies. In this case the employee would need to discuss their circumstances with their employer in good faith. The parties could still agree to bereavement leave or other contractual time off. In the event the employee will return to work earlier than the date they originally specified to their employer, they would still need to give 21 days’ notice.

Template letter to an employer in cases of stillbirth or death of a child [DOCX, 22 KB]

More information

For a summary of the paid and unpaid parental benefits available to eligible parents, refer to the eligibility table.

Parental leave and payment eligibility table

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Page last revised: 03 November 2020

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