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Who can get parental leave payments

Employees and self-employed people may be able get parental leave payments when they’re not working so they can care for a new child.

Employees

If you’re an employee, to get parental leave payments you must:

  • be going to be the primary carer of a child under 6 years (through giving birth or otherwise taking permanent primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of the child, eg through adoption, whāngai, Home for Life (external link) or similar permanent arrangement), and
  • have been employed as an employee (this doesn’t have to be for the same employer) for at least an average of 10 hours per week over any 26 of the 52 weeks just before:
    • the baby’s due date (if the child is being born to you or your spouse or partner), or
    • in any other case of a child under 6 years, the date when you or your spouse or partner becomes the primary carer of the child.

This eligibility test is different from the six and 12 month criteria for eligibility for parental leave. This means that some employees who aren’t eligible for parental leave can still get parental leave payments (as long as they aren’t working).

What being employed as an employee includes

If an employee would normally have been at work for an hour (or hours) but was absent due to the reasons listed below, this time is still counted as their being employed for that hour (or hours). If the employee was:

  • absent on leave with pay
  • on leave without pay (other than parental leave) with the employer’s agreement entitled to an ACC payment for that hour, or
  • on volunteers leave
  • a pregnant employee who is on primary carer leave before the expected due date for that hour (excluding any primary carer leave taken for a different child in the past 6 months), or
  • absent for any other reason that doesn’t disrupt their normal pattern of employment, in the view of a Labour Inspector.

Self-employed

If you are self-employed to get parental leave payment you must:

  • be becoming the primary carer of a child under six years (through giving birth or otherwise permanently becoming primarily responsible for their care, development and upbringing eg through adoption or home for life), and
  • have been working in self-employment for at least an average of 10 hours a week over any 26 of the 52 weeks just before:
    • the baby’s due date (if the child is being born to you or your spouse or partner), or
    • in any other case of a child under six years, the date when you or your spouse or partner becomes the primary carer of the child.

What being self-employed includes

For the purposes of parental leave payments, self-employed means you must have been working, doing one or more of these things (but not as an employee):

  • providing goods or services for hire or reward under a contract for services
  • carrying on a business (including a profession, trade, manufacture, or undertaking carried on for profit), including in partnership with another person
  • working for a trust in a business carried on by the trust.

You can be doing more than one type of work when you are self-employed eg gardening and bee-keeping.

A self-employed person is counted as having been self-employed for an hour if the person:

  • is entitled to a weekly payment under the Accident Compensation Act 2001
  • is on parental leave before the expected date of delivery of the child
  • is unable to work for any other reason that a Labour Inspector considers wouldn’t disrupt the normal pattern of the person’s self-employment.

You can only get parental leave payments while you aren’t working, but because of the differences between the nature of employment and self-employment, it is expected that a self-employed person:

  • would still do occasional administrative duties such as signing off the wages or monthly account reconciliations and GST returns, but
  • would not be working regularly.

A self-employed person may receive income during the parental leave payment period, if the income was earned before the parental leave payment period started, or is because of work undertaken by other people in the business.

If you worked as a self-employed person and an employee during the last six or 12 months, you can apply separately as an employee and a self-employed person as long as you meet the criteria for each. The total payment you get from both can’t be more than the maximum amount.

For example, you worked as an employed carer at a rest home and also provided weekend respite care as a self-employed person from time to time.

For the purposes of parental leave payments, members of the Armed Forces in New Zealand or overseas are generally treated as if they were employees of the Chief of Defence Force, and as if their conditions of service set by the Defence Act 1990 were their employment agreement. However:

  • there is no employer obligation to notify them of their parental leave payment entitlements, and
  • there is no restriction on their ‘employment agreement’ affecting their parental leave payment entitlement, and
  • there is no restriction on their parental leave payment entitlement affecting their entitlements under their ‘employment agreement’.

If a parent has more than one child at the same time, for example, twins, they get the same amount of parental leave and parental leave payments as if they only had one child. Depending on their level of family income, they may be able to get a parental tax credit(external link), this might be better for some families than a parental leave payment. An employee can’t get the parental tax credit and a parental leave payment for the same child or children, so check out each option first so you know which one to apply for.

You can get parental leave payments for your next child, but there must be at least six months between the date you received a parental leave payment for your last child and the date you want a parental leave payment from for you next child. You must also meet all the criteria for a parental leave payment each time. 

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