How do I apply for parental leave and payments?
Applying for leave
You should apply in writing to your employer. This is important, as it makes it easier to enforce your rights if there is a disagreement. In most cases, you need to give your employer a letter at least three months before the baby is due. You do not need to give three months notice when your employer agrees to let you give less notice, or if you are assuming the care of a child with a view to adoption, which has different notice requirements.
The letter must say:
- What type of leave you want
- When you want the leave to start, and how long the period of leave will be.
If you are sharing any part of your leave with your spouse/partner, the letter must also say:
- The dates on which you and your spouse/partner plan to start and finish each period of leave
- Your spouse/partner’s name and, if they are an employee, the name and address of their employer
- That you and your spouse/partner are both eligible for the leave you are applying for
- That the total amount of leave you and your spouse/partner are taking will not be more than 52 weeks (not counting any partner’s/paternity leave taken).
You must attach a certificate, or a copy of a certificate, from your doctor or midwife stating when the baby is due. Your spouse/partner must also include a written declaration from you stating that they are your spouse/partner and they are going to share the care of the baby, or child you are adopting.
Download examples of the required letter, or you can contact the Department of Labour on 0800 20 90 20 during business hours and they can send you a copy.
You should think carefully about the length of parental leave you want before you go on leave. If you are already on parental leave, you may not be able to extend a short period of leave, as once you have started your leave you can only extend it if your employer agrees.
If you have assumed the care of a child that you intend to adopt, you may not know in advance when you will take responsibility for the child. There are special provisions for giving notice in this situation.
What is my Employer required to do?
After the employer receives your application for parental leave, they have seven days in which to ask for any required information which you may not have previously given them. This seven-day period starts from the date on which it comes to the employer’s attention that the application is incomplete. You must provide this information within 14 days.
Once they have received all the information, your employer must reply to the application within 21 days. The reply should state:
- Whether you are entitled to take parental leave, and if not, the reasons why not
- The main legal rights and obligations you have, particularly those relating to when you can start your leave
- Whether or not the job can be kept open. If it can’t, the letter should explain that you are able to dispute that, and will have preference for similar jobs for six months after the end of your parental leave.
It is rare that an employer can decline leave. If you disagree with your employer’s decision, you can ask the Department of Labour to investigate the decision on your behalf. For more information see our fact sheet: What should I do if I have a problem relating to my parental leave?
Download examples of employer letters.
Applying for payments
Applications for parental leave payments are processed by Inland Revenue (IRD).
Once you have agreed on your leave arrangements with your employer, you should make an application for parental leave payments as soon as possible. You need to make a special application if any of the paid leave will be transferred to your spouse/ partner (if they are eligible).
Download the application forms or request the forms from the Department of Labour during business hours on 0800 20 90 20.
It makes good sense to complete this application form at the same time as you apply to your employer for leave.
Once you and your spouse/partner (if you intend to transfer parental leave payments to them) have completed the application forms, you should ask your employer to verify the length of employment and salary details on the application form.
When your employer has completed this part of the form, you should forward it to Inland Revenue, PO Box 39090, Wellington Mail Centre, Wellington 5045. Once your application has been processed, Inland Revenue will send you notification of whether or not you are entitled to paid parental leave, how much you will receive and when you will receive your payments.