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Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987. Justice icon

Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987.

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 (the Act) is a New Zealand legislation that aims to:

  • Set minimum entitlements with respect to parental leave for male and female employees
  • Protect the rights of employees during pregnancy and parental leave
  • Entitle certain individuals to up to 18 weeks of parental leave payments

Purpose of the Act.

The main purpose of the Act is to give natural biological parents and other individuals who are the permanent primary carer of any child under the age of six the right to receive parental leave entitlements, and under the right circumstances, gain access to government-assisted parental leave payments.

The Act clearly outlines the criteria for employers to follow and the entitlements that employees with single or multiple jobs can receive. The Act also specifies the threshold employees must satisfy to be entitled to parental leave payments and other benefits.

Key Points for Businesses.

As an employer, it is important to understand the terms and conditions of the Act. By having fair parental leave policies in place, it means employees can transition into their primary carer responsibilities without fear of losing their existing employment or financial aid.

Below are some key employee entitlements that must be considered when creating and implementing a parental leave policy:

For an employee who meets the 6-month employment test.

  • Up to 18 weeks of primary carer leave
  • An extension of up to 26 weeks’ leave, which may be shared with the person’s spouse or partner
  • If the employee is eligible to receive parental leave payments, up to 18 weeks of parental leave payments and up to 13 weeks of preterm baby payments.

An employee who does not meet the 6-month employment test but who meets the parental leave payment threshold test is entitled to:

  • If the employer agrees, a period of negotiated carer leave, and
  • Up to 18 weeks of parental leave payments and up to 13 weeks of preterm baby payments

For an employee who meets the 12-month employment test.

  • Up to 18 weeks of primary carer leave
  • An extension of up to 52 weeks’ leave, which may be shared with the person’s spouse or partner
  • If the employee is eligible to receive parental leave payments, up to 18 weeks of parental leave payments and up to 13 weeks of preterm baby payments

For spouses and partners who will be the child’s primary carer.

  • If they meet the 6-month employment test, up to 1 week of partners leave and an extension of up to 26 weeks’ leave, to be shared with the child’s primary carer
  • If they meet the 12-month employment test, up to 2 weeks of partner’s leave and an extension of up to 52 weeks, which may need to be shared with the child’s primary carer

Self-employed persons may take as much parental leave as they wish and,

  • If they meet the parental leave payment threshold test, receive up to 18 weeks of parental leave payments and up to 13 weeks of preterm baby payments

Rights and Obligations After Commencing Parental Leave.

According to the Act, an employee’s position must be kept open in the case of parental leave not exceeding four weeks and, unless there is a case of redundancy, or where a temporary replacement is not reasonably practical due to it being a key position, must be kept open in the case of longer periods of parental leave.

Whether the role is considered a key position will depend on the size of the employer’s enterprise and the training period or skills required to do the job.

Other factors that employers need to be aware of after commencing parental leave include:

  • An employee is entitled to go back to work for occasional Keeping in Touch days (KIT) for a total of 40 hours during parental leave, with certain restrictions
  • An employee is not considered to have returned to work if he or she performs these 40 hours or fewer of paid work during the parental leave payment period
  • An employee may give notice to return to work earlier than the prescribed period outlined in the initial agreement, but only if the employer agrees to it
  • An employee may return to work early without the need for permission from the employer if:
  • The employee or their spouse or partner suffers a miscarriage
  • The child is stillborn or dies, or
  • If the employee or the employee’s spouse or partner fails to become or ceases to be the primary carer of the child

For advice on how to incorporate the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act into the workplace, contact Employsure on 0800 675 700.

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