Employees are entitled to up to 52 weeks of leave when they have a baby in New Zealand. The first 26 weeks is paid primary carer leave and the last 26 weeks are unpaid extended leave.
Employees are eligible for primary carer leave if they:
are either the birth mother, or the spouse or partner with primary carer payments transferred to them,
are the primary caregiver for a child under the age of six, including via adoption, or
have worked for the same employer for an average of 10 hours per week for the 26 weeks prior to the child arriving.
Primary care leave can start up to six weeks before the expected due date and must be taken in one continuous period. Primary carer leave can start earlier if the employee gives birth early, is directed to do so by a doctor, or the employer determines that the work performed by the employee is too dangerous or cannot be performed while pregnant and cannot shift the employee to other tasks. Female employees must take 20 weeks of leave after birth, even if the primary carer leave started early. In this situation, the additional primary carer’s leave is not included in the amount of extended leave available.
Employees who have worked for their employer for at least 10 hours per week for 52 weeks before the start of leave can also take an additional 26 weeks of unpaid extended leave, starting after primary carer leave, for a total of up to 52 weeks. Extended leave can be shared by both parents, provided both parents meet eligibility requirements. Employees who have not worked an average of 10 hours per week for the 26 weeks prior to the child arriving do not qualify for primary carers or extended leave but can ask for negotiated carer leave. Negotiated carer leave allows an employee to take parental leave and receive payment even if they do not meet the requirements of primary carer leave.
Spouses or partners can take one week of their partner’s leave if they have worked at least 10 hours a week for the 26 weeks before the child’s arrival, or two weeks if they have worked at least 10 hours a week for the 52 weeks before the child’s arrival. Partner leave can generally be taken at any point starting 21 days before the expected due date or the date primary carer leave starts, and 21 days after the birth or the date primary carer leave starts.