Prospective parents, business owners/operators and managers should all be aware of new changes the Government is applying to paid parental leave.

From 1st April 2016 staff are entitled to receive a total of 18 weeks of government-paid parental leave. This is an additional two weeks over the previous entitlement of 16 weeks.

The paid parental leave entitlement is being extended to apply to:

  • Casual workers
  • Seasonal workers
  • Employees who work for more than one employer
  • People who have recently changed jobs

Entitlements have also been extended to cover all permanent circumstances where the applicant has primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of a child under 6 years old, including adoption, Home for Life parents, whāngai and grandparents.

Another change is the introduction of paid “keeping-in-touch” days for employees, by agreement between the employer and employee.

Paid parental leave takes into account a number of factors, including the baby’s due date, the employment start date, average pay and the number of hours worked per week. The Employment New Zealand website provides a calculator to enable both businesses and prospective parents to determine what the entitlements are. Self-employed individuals can also use the calculator to work out their entitlements from the government.

Staff must apply for parental leave in writing to their employer, stating desired leave dates. Employers are required to respond within 21 days. Application forms and sample letters can be found on the Employment New Zealand website here.