What paid and unpaid leave is available and when does it start
Parental leave includes the following types of unpaid leave (some of which can be shared with your spouse/partner if they are also eligible).
Maternity leave of 16 continuous weeks may start up to six weeks before the expected date of birth or adoption. If you plan to take maternity leave, you must write to your employer at least three months before your expected date of birth.
In certain cases maternity leave can start earlier. Your doctor or midwife can direct you to start your leave earlier if they believe it is necessary for the health of you or your baby. Your employer can also direct you to start maternity leave early if you cannot continue to do your job safely or cannot perform your job adequately. If your doctor or employer directs you to start your maternity leave early, you have the right to take eight weeks maternity leave after the expected date of birth, and your maternity leave is extended to allow that. Special rules apply in this case - contact the Department of Labour on 0800 20 90 20 during business hours for further details.
If you and your employer agree, you can start maternity leave at any other time before your baby is due.
- Special leave of up to 10 days can be taken by a mother before maternity leave for reasons connected with pregnancy (e.g. antenatal checks).
- Partner's/paternity leave (where the spouse/partner is an employee) of either one week (for a spouse/partner with six months eligible service), or two weeks (for a spouse/partner with 12 months eligible service). Partner's/paternity leave can be extended in certain circumstances, if parental leave payments are transferred from a mother to an eligible spouse/partner. Partner's/paternity leave is additional to the period of maternity and extended leave.
Partner’s/paternity leave can be taken in the period between 21 days before the expected date of delivery (or date you assume the care of a child with a view to adoption) and 21 days after the actual date of birth or the date you have assumed the care of a child with a view to adoption. If you and your employer agree, you can start partner’s/paternity leave at any other time.
- Extended leave of up to 52 weeks is available for employees with 12 months eligible service. It can be up to 52 continuous weeks, less any maternity leave taken, and is available in the 12 months after birth, or date the employee assumes the care of a child they intend to adopt. Extended leave may be shared by both eligible parents, but the total leave taken must not be more than 52 weeks (including maternity leave and paid parental leave). However, the one or two weeks partner’s/paternity leave entitlement is additional to this 52 week period. Both spouses/partners can take their leave at the same time or they can take it one after the other.
Extended leave can start any time after the end of your maternity or partner’s/paternity leave.
Each kind of leave must be taken in one continuous period. You can finish your maternity or paternity leave, go back to work, and then take extended leave later. However, the right to extended leave ends when the child is one year old, or one year after you have assumed the care of a child you intend to adopt.
If you and your employer agree, you can start extended leave at any other time.
- Paid parental leave is available to female employees who give birth to a child, or to either parent where a couple has assumed the care of a child under six they intend to jointly adopt. You may transfer all or part of your paid parental leave to your spouse/partner as long as they are also eligible.
If you meet either the six or 12 month eligibility criteria, you are entitled to paid parental leave for 16 weeks. To receive it, you must apply to your employer for parental leave, then apply to Inland Revenue for parental leave payments. This paid leave must be taken at the same time as any unpaid leave you take.
The maximum level of payment is currently $504.10 per week before tax. You are entitled to either your gross weekly rate of pay (your pay before tax) or $504.10, whichever is lower.
The payment period begins when your parental leave begins - that is, when you start your maternity, partner’s/paternity, or extended leave.
When you apply for paid leave you can choose when your payment commences. It continues until the 16 weeks are complete. However, it may stop earlier if you:
- Transfer the payment, or part of the payment, to your spouse/partner
- Return to work before the end of the paid parental leave period
- Resign from your job
- Are employed on a fixed-term agreement that expires during the paid parental leave period.
Some employment agreements include parental leave provisions. You may have a choice of parental leave provisions if your employment agreement has provisions that are as favourable as, or more favourable than, those provided by law. Your employment agreement cannot change your eligibility for the government’s parental leave payments, and you can receive additional payments through your employment agreement.
You can take parental leave multiple times, as long as six months elapse between the date you returned to work and the expected date of birth of the subsequent child. You must also meet the eligibility requirements each time.