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Parental leave payment period

The parental leave payment period can’t start later than the child’s arrival and the payments are for up to 18 weeks.

The parental leave payment period must be continuous

Parental leave payments are payable for one continuous period of up to 18 weeks. If you transfer some or all of your parental leave payment (external link) , your spouse or partner must also take the amount transferred in one continuous period that starts the day after your payment period ends.

Earliest start date (if date of birth on or after 37 weeks)

The earliest date that the parental leave payment period can start from is:

  • in the case of a child born to the person or to the person’s spouse or partner, on the earlier of:
    • the date the person starts parental leave (or finishes work), or
    • the birth date; or
  • in any other case, on the date on which the person first becomes the primary carer of the child (and is on parental leave or has finished work).

Latest start date (if date of birth on or after 37 weeks)

The latest date that the parental leave payment period can start from is:

  • the birth date if the child is born to the person or their spouse or partner; or
  • the date the person first becomes the primary carer of the child if the primary carer isn’t the birth mother or her spouse or partner; or
  • if the person is taking a period of continuous paid leave (eg annual holidays) at the start of their period of parental leave, the day after the date the period of continuous paid leave ends.

If you apply for parental leave payments later, the parental leave payment period start date will still be backdated to the date that the child was born or you became the primary carer of the child or the day after the date your period of continuous paid leave ended. But, your application must be made before the earlier of:

  • your return to work; or
  • the first anniversary of:
    • your child’s birth, or the date you or your partner became the child’s primary carer.

Parental leave payment period for parents also entitled to preterm baby payments

Start date of parental leave payment period if baby born before 37 weeks

If you are entitled to preterm baby payments and your parental leave period hasn’t started yet, your parental leave period will start from the earlier of:

  • the end of your pre-term payment period; or
  • the original expected due date of the baby (if the baby hadn’t been born prematurely)

Effect on parental leave payment period if you return to work

If you return to work (other than for keeping in touch hours) after you become entitled to a preterm baby payment and:

  • you are receiving a preterm baby payment, then your preterm baby payment period ends on the date you returned to work. Your parental leave payment period starts when (and if) you restart your parental leave (which can’t be later than your original due date ie if your baby hadn’t been born prematurely).
  • you are not receiving a preterm baby payment, then your parental leave payment period is suspended on the date you returned to work. It restarts when you restart your parental leave (which can’t be later than your original due date ie if your baby hadn’t been born prematurely).

Applying for parental leave payments has more about how to apply for parental leave payment.

How long you will receive your payments for

You will usually get your parental leave payments for up to 18 weeks. Payments will stop earlier (before the end of 18 weeks) if you:

  • transfer the payment, or part of the payment, to your spouse or partner; or
  • return to work (not including keeping in touch days); or
  • stop being the primary carer of the child (unless you’re the biological mother and you miscarry or the baby dies); or
  • become eligible for preterm baby payments. In this case you can suspend your parental leave payments and restart these after the end of the preterm payments as long as you haven’t used up your 18 weeks.

If you return to work (not including keeping in touch days) and you are still receiving parental leave payments you must contact Inland Revenue and advise them of your return date. Your entitlement to payments ends on the day you return to work.

Keeping in touch days has more about staying connected with your employer.

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