Requesting parental leave

Before you take parental leave, you’ll need to discuss your plans with your employer and put them in writing.

Letting your employer know

When planning parental leave, you will need to let your employer know by writing them an email or a letter with all the details. Before you write to them, check what leave you can take.

Types of parental leave

If you or your spouse or partner are: 

  • having a baby and want to take either parental leave or negotiated carer leave, you must write to your employer at least 3 months before the baby’s expected due date
  • going to become the permanent primary carer of a child under 6 years old, let your employer know when it’s likely to happen as soon as you can. Write to your employer at least 14 days before you want to take parental leave.

Your letter or email must say: 

  • what type of leave you want to take
  • the date you want the leave to start
  • how long you will be taking leave for.

If you’re sharing any part of your leave with your spouse or partner, the letter or email must also:

  • include the dates you and your spouse or partner plan to start and finish each period of leave
  • state your spouse or partner’s name and, if they’re also working, the name and address of their employer
  • confirm you and your spouse or partner are both eligible for the leave you’re applying for
  • confirm that the total amount of leave you and your spouse or partner are taking will not be more than 52 weeks. This does not include any partner’s leave taken.

What to include with your letter

If you’re giving birth to the child, you must attach a copy of a certificate from your doctor or midwife showing: 

  • the name of the person who is pregnant, and
  • the baby’s due date.

If it’s your spouse or partner who is pregnant, you will also need to include a written letter from them saying that:

  • you are their spouse or partner, and
  • you will be assuming care of the child they are expecting.

If you’re taking permanent primary responsibility for the care of a child under 6 years old, you will need to include one of the following with your letter:

  • a certified copy of a court order placing the child in your day-to-day care or custody
  • a copy of a letter from the chief executive of the Ministry or organisation who has custody of the child, confirming that you are (or will be) the child's primary carer, or
  • a copy of your application for a parenting order or adoption order (if you’ve made one) and a statutory declaration.

If you cannot provide any of these, you will at least need to include a statutory declaration with your letter.

Making a statutory declaration - New Zealand Government (external link)

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Regulations 2016 legislation has the wording you will need to use for a statutory declaration. You will find it under Form 1 of Schedule 2 of the regulations.

Parental Leave and Employment Protection Regulations 2016 - New Zealand Legislation(external link)

What happens next

Your employer has 7 days to respond to your letter and ask for more information if they need it. If they do ask you for more information, you must provide it within 14 days of their asking. Once your employer has all the information they need, they have 21 days to let you know:

  • if they believe you are not entitled to take parental leave and why – your employer may make this assessment, but they can’t tell you that you are not permitted to take leave if you are entitled to it
  • your rights and obligations when taking parental leave
  • if they will be able to keep your job open for you while you’re on leave. 

You cannot lose your job because you’re taking parental leave, but if your job is considered a ‘key position’, your employer may not be able to keep it open for you. If that’s the case, you will go into a 26-week ‘period of preference’ when you return to work after parental leave. During your period of preference, if a job similar to your previous one comes up, your employer must offer it to you before anyone else.

What happens while on parental leave and your return

Your employer must confirm the arrangements for your parental leave in writing. The letter will include:

  • the date your parental leave will end
  • either the date you will return to work (if your job is being kept open for you) or the date your period of preference will start
  • a reminder that if your job is being kept open for you, you will need to write to your employer at least 21 days before you’re due back at work to tell them what you’re doing
  • the circumstances in which you can return to work early if you need to. 

When you can take parental leave again

As long as you meet the work criteria, you can take parental leave every time you have a baby, or a new child under the age of 6 comes into your care. However, at least 6 months must have elapsed since the end of your last period of parental leave, before you can take it again.

You can also get parental leave payments more than once, but you will need to meet the eligibility criteria for these each time too.

If you have a problem with your parental leave

Ideally, the terms of your parental leave should work well for both you and your employer. If you have a problem with your parental leave, you can make a complaint. You can talk to your employer directly, ask the Labour Inspectorate to investigate the issue or make a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA).

Employment Relations Authority(external link)

You can also make use of our Early Resolution Service.

Early resolution

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