Parental leave scenarios

Scenarios where employees can, and can’t, take parental leave.

Employee takes 12 months’ parental leave

Janisha has been working for her employer for two years. She works four days a week from 9am to 5pm. She is having her first baby and notifies her employer that she wants to take her full entitlement of 12 months of parental leave when her baby is born. Janisha’s partner Sanjay notifies his employer that he will take two weeks’ partner’s leave when the baby is born, but he won’t be applying for any extended leave.

Janisha’s employer hires Wendy to cover for her on a fixed-term basis for 12 months. Wendy’s employment agreement states that the reason for the fixed term of 12 months is to provide parental leave cover for Janisha and that if Janisha decides to return to work early, then her fixed-term employment will also finish early (but that Wendy will be given at least the notice period in her employment agreement before her employment ends).

Janisha applies for 26 weeks’ parental leave payment through Inland Revenue just before she goes on leave. Everything goes according to plan, Sanjay spends the first two weeks after the baby is born at home, Janisha takes her planned 12 months’ parental leave (receiving parental leave payments for 26 weeks of this) then she returns to work on her previous hours.

Adopting parents share extended leave

Chris and Tracy have been approved by Oranga Tamariki as eligible to jointly adopt a child. They have been placed into a pool and have to wait until a child is available for placement. After a few months they receive a letter from their Oranga Tamarik social worker that in 1 month, a child aged 1 year will be available and placed with them.

Chris wants to take primary carer leave to care for the child. Tracy also wants to take extended parental leave from employment later in the year. At the date that Chris and Tracy will start care of their child, Chris:

  • will have been employed for 7 months, working an average of 20 hours per week over this time, and
  • will be able to take 26 weeks' primary carer leave and 26 weeks' parental leave payment.

At least 14 days before Chris starts looking after the child, he notifies his employer that:

  • he wants to take leave to look after the child for 26 weeks (including 26 weeks’ primary carer leave) and
  • that Tracy and Chris are assuming care of the child jointly

Tracy has been working full-time for the same employer for 5 years. She notifies her employer that she’ll be taking 2 weeks of partner’s leave when the child arrives and then extended leave of 26 weeks. The total amount of parental leave that she and Chris are taking is no more than 54 weeks including partner's leave.

Permanent care arrangement within a family

Alex and Toni recently arranged to take care of Toni’s sister’s newborn twins (their nieces). Toni’s sister has agreed that Alex and Toni will look after the babies permanently, but she doesn’t want them to adopt the children.

Alex wants to take primary carer leave to look after the baby girls. As Alex has been employed fulltime with the same employer for several years, Alex is eligible for parental leave.

Toni isn’t going to take any parental leave. Alex signs a statutory declaration witnessed by a Justice of the Peace (JP) (external link) stating that Alex is going to be the primary carer for the little girls. Alex notifies the employer (as soon as the statutory declaration is done, which is at least 14 days before the children come into their care) that Alex wishes to take parental leave. Alex meets the time criteria and the notice requirements and can take parental leave. Alex stops work before the day the girls come into his care.

After looking at the Inland Revenue website, Alex successfully applies for a parental leave payment to help with their finances.

Arrangement is not permanent

When Manu’s cousin has her third child, Manu offers to look after the oldest child (who is 4 years old) to help out. At this stage Manu is not intending to have the boy permanently, but might later if it works out for both of them.

Manu has been employed full-time for several years and wants to take parental leave to look after the child. Manu makes a statutory declaration stating they’re looking after the child and that this might become permanent. Manu gives the employer a letter of intention to take parental leave and attaches the statutory declaration.

Because Manu is only caring for the child on a temporary basis, Manu does not qualify for parental leave and the employer declines the request. Manu is also not able to get a parental leave payment because the arrangement is not permanent.

Employee and self-employed partners, whāngai arrangement, nominate a primary carer

Jo and Ray have the permanent care of their nephew in a whāngai arrangement.

Jo qualifies for extended parental leave and is taking 26 weeks’ leave. As they are caring for the child jointly, either of them could apply for a parental leave payment. They nominate Ray as the primary carer and Ray has a break from self-employment at the time they start caring for their child. Ray receives a parental leave payment of 26 weeks while being the primary carer.

Jo later takes extended leave when Ray goes back to work.

Employee returns to work early after parental leave

Suze is pregnant. She has worked full-time for 6 years and notifies her employer she wants to take parental leave for 52 weeks. Suze receives the parental leave payment for 26 weeks.

When the baby is 5 months old, Suze is struggling financially and decides that she wants to go back to work earlier than the 52 weeks she had originally intended. She doesn’t want to work full-time because her baby is still very young. She contacts her employer to ask if she can come back to work in 1 month (she has to give her employer 21 days’ notice).

Her employer had filled her position by hiring a fixed-term employee and the fixed-term employee’s employment agreement stated that the fixed term would end if Suze came back to work early. Suze’s employer agrees that she can come back early.

Suze makes an application under part 6AA of the Employment Relations Act 2000 (flexible working) to reduce her hours to 5 hours per day until her baby is 1 year old. Her employer says yes right away and Suze returns to work on reduced hours.

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Page last revised: 01 July 2020

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