Sorting out parental leave problems

Parental leave problems and how to resolve them.

Examples of parental leave complaints with your employer:

  • wrongly tells you that you can’t take parental leave
  • won’t keep your job open without good reason
  • dismisses you because you’re pregnant or 
  • dismisses you because you’re becoming the permanent carer of a child under 6 or for reasons connected with you or your spouse or partner’s parental leave
  • does something that has a bad effect on your parental leave or parental leave payment rights, or 
  • unfairly tells you to start maternity leave early or transfers you to another job for safety reasons or because he or she believes you can’t do your job properly, because of your pregnancy. 

What to do

If you have a parental leave complaint, you should try to sort it out quickly as there are tight timeframes for some of the parental leave processes and for making complaints. 

Parental leave complaints can’t be made after the latest of:

  • 26 weeks from the date the matter of the complaint happened, or
  • 26 weeks from the expected date of birth or date the employee became the primary carer of the child under 6 years
  • eight weeks after the end of any period of parental leave taken by the employee.

You might want to discuss the problem with family or friends for another view and you should look at your employment agreement and any workplace parental leave policies or information. 

If you have a parental leave complaint:

  1. You must let your manager or supervisor know about the problem as soon as you can so they can try to fix the problem. You should both be clear about the facts and try to work out what the problem really is to make sure it’s not just a misunderstanding or incorrect assumption. 

If this doesn’t sort things out or the type of problem makes this inappropriate:

  1. You must tell your union/agent/lawyer about the problem so they can sort things out with your employer. 
  2. If they can’t sort it out then you should write down your complaint and all the facts.
  3. You can take your complaint to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) who may refer you to mediation.

You can contact us for advice and information.

You can get help from a Labour Inspector 

A Labour Inspector can help employers and employees to resolve parental leave disputes and can enforce parental leave and parental leave payment rights and benefits.  

You can get help from a Labour Inspector if your employer:

  • wrongly tells you that you can’t take parental leave, or 
  • doesn’t reply in writing within 1 month if you ask for negotiated carer leave and/or
  • says no, and doesn’t tell you what the grounds or reasons for saying no

If you want to take it further after the Labour Inspector has tried to help you, you can go straight to mediation. (You can also go straight to mediation without going to a Labour Inspector first.)

Inland Revenue can ask a Labour Inspector to decide on an employee’s ordinary pay or average weekly income to work out the amount of parental leave payment, if it can’t be agreed. 

Losing your job because of parental leave or pregnancy

If you think you’ve lost your job or been given your notice within the last 2 months because of:

  • your pregnancy, or
  • taking parental leave, or 
  • during your leave or period of preference (and you disagree that your position is a key position or that your employer has given you your period of preference),

you can go directly to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA (external link) ) to try get your job back (eg by getting an interim reinstatement or cancellation of notice order) while the problem is sorted out. The interim order will only last up to 26 weeks, but may be extended by the ERA if you’re trying to sort out the problem using the process in steps 1 to 4.

Making a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority

If mediation doesn’t resolve the problem, or you don’t accept a Labour Inspector’s assistance (eg into the level of payment), you can take a parental leave complaint to the ERA (external link)  for investigation.

You can also apply to the ERA for a review of a decision made by the Labour Inspectorate about your eligibility for a parental leave payment. An application for review must be made within 12 months of the date on which you were notified of the decision. The ERA may confirm, modify or reverse the Labour Inspectorate’s decision.  

If you are not satisfied with the ERA’s decision, you can go to the Employment Court (external link) .

If you are self-employed 

Self-employed people can go to a Labour Inspector if they disagree with a decision that they can’t get a parental leave payment or disagree with the calculated amount they will be getting. 

More help

You can calculate your entitlements or contact us.

You can also contact:

  1. your union
  2. employers’ organisations
  3. Citizens Advice Bureaux
  4. Community law centres
  5. parent support organisations or agencies
  6. the EEO Trust (external link) , ph (09) 525 3023
  7. the Human Rights Commission (external link)  if you think you have been discriminated against. Call free on 0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS (0800 496 877) or email, Teletypewriter (TTY) 0800 150 111.

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