Parental leave: what you need to know

Confused about your entitlements when it comes to paid parental leave? Here are some quick answers to your frequently asked questions.

What is paid parental leave?

Paid parental leave (PPL) is a government-funded entitlement paid to eligible mothers and other primary carers, such as adoptive parents, Home for Life parents, whāngai, grandparents with full-time care, and other permanent guardians.

These payments go towards the loss of income when they take parental leave or stop working to care for:

Who's entitled to paid parental leave?
Mums-to-be who have worked for the same employer for an average of at least 10 hours a week, and at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month, in either the six of 12 months immediately before your baby's expected due date. Use the Employment New Zealand paid parental leave eligibility tool to find out whether you or your partner are eligible.

How much leave can I take?

You're entitled to 18 weeks of paid parental leave. As of 1 June 2017, parents who want to get parental leave payments can choose to first use other types of paid leave they’re entitled to, eg:

  • annual leave
  • alternative days
  • special leave
  • time off in lieu

They can choose to start their 18-week parental leave payment period once they have taken other types of paid leave — even if this is after the child’s arrival. Previously the parental leave payment period couldn’t start later than the child’s arrival.

How much you can take depends on whether you've been an employee of the same employer for six months prior to your baby's due date, or 12 months. If you've been working for six months, you are eligible to 10 days of special leave, and 18 weeks of paid parental leave. If you've been working for 12 months, you are eligible for 10 days of special leave, 18 weeks of paid parental leave, and 52 weeks of unpaid extended leave (which includes the 18 weeks of paid parental leave).

How much could I be paid?

The maximum weekly rate for eligible employees and self-employed parents is $527.72 gross per week. The amount you could receive is either your gross weekly rate of pay (your pay before tax) or $527.72 - whichever is lower.

What are the different types of leave?

Primary carer leave is available to:

  • female employees who are having a baby, or her spouse or partner if they have all or part of the birth mother’s parental leave payments transferred to them.
  • employees who are going to have the primary responsibility for the care, development and upbringing of a child under six years on a permanent basis.

Primary carer leave can be taken for up to 18 weeks and must be taken in one continuous period. Primary care leave can’t be taken if the employee has already taken any period of parental leave or similar leave in relation to that child.

Find out more about primary carer leave.

Special leave In addition to any parental leave taken, females who are pregnant can also take up to 10 days’ unpaid special leave for pregnancy-related reasons such as antenatal classes, scans or midwife appointments. Special leave is unpaid, and you don't need to take it in full days - meaning, if you have a midwife appointment during working hours, you can take a few hours of special leave to attend it (bearing in mind that it is unpaid leave). Special leave does not replace your normal annual leave or sick leave, and you don't need to accrue it as you do annual leave - you are automatically entitled to it.

Find out more about special leave here.

Spouse or partner's leave If you’re a spouse or partner and you meet the:

  • six month time criteria you may take one week’s unpaid partner’s leave
  • twelve month time criteria you may take two weeks’ unpaid partner’s leave.

You can take partner’s leave within the timeframe:

  • starting 21 days before the due date of the baby, or the date your partner or spouse becomes the primary carer for a child under six years, and
  • ending 21 days after the baby is born (unless the baby is discharged from a hospital more than 21 days after the birth, in which case the partner’s leave timeframe ends on the day the child is discharged) or the date your partner or spouse becomes the primary carer for the child.

If you and your employer agree, you can start partner’s leave at any time.

Find out more about spouse or partner's leave.

Extended leave The amount of extended leave that an employee may take depends on whether each parent meets either the six month or 12 month time criteria. Extended leave may be shared by two parents who both meet the criteria, and they can take it at the same time or one after the other:

  • Employees who meet the 12 month criteria may take up to 52 weeks extended leave (less the number of weeks primary carer leave taken, up to 18 weeks). If two parents are sharing the leave and they both meet the 12 month criteria then they share this amount.
  • Employees who meet the six month criteria may take up to 26 weeks in total (less the number of weeks primary carer leave taken, up to 18 weeks). If two parents are sharing the leave and they both meet the six month criteria then they share this amount.
  • If one parent meets the 12 month criteria and the other parent meets the six month criteria then the person who has only worked for six months cannot take more than 26 weeks of the total 52 weeks (less the number of weeks primary carer leave taken up to 18 weeks) available to the couple.

The one or two weeks of partner’s leave is not included in the 26 week or 52 week extended leave period.

Find out more about starting and finishing dates for extended leave.

Negotiated carer leave If an employee will be the primary carer of the child and would meet the work time and hours criteria to receive parental leave payments, but they can’t take primary carer leave (because they don’t meet the criteria for parental leave), they can ask their employer to give them negotiated carer leave.

Negotiated carer leave lets employees who don’t qualify for primary carer leave to take leave to care for their child and receive parental leave payments.

Negotiated carer leave is a period of unpaid leave from work which an employee can ask for:

  • at least three months before the baby’s due date, if the employee or their spouse or partner is pregnant, or
  • 14 days before an employee becomes the primary carer of a child.

If an employee asks for negotiated carer leave and gives their employer the correct information their employer will let them know if they agree as soon as possible and not more than one month after the employer asked.

Find out more about negotiated carer leave.

How much will I get paid?


Employees’ weekly parental leave payments equal the greater of:

  • an applicant’s ordinary weekly pay, or
  • an applicant’s average weekly income

up to the maximum weekly amount of $538.55 gross (gross means before any deductions eg income tax) per week.


Self-employd people’s parental leave payments equal the greater of:

  • 100% of their average weekly earnings, or
  • the minimum amount of parental leave payment payable to an eligible self-employed person,

up to the maximum amount of $538.55 gross (gross means before any deductions eg income tax) per week.

The minimum amount of payment for a self-employed person per week is $157.50 per week (this is equal to 10 hours of the minimum adult wage per week). You would receive this amount if you make a loss, or earn less than the minimum wage while working for at least 10 hours per week.

Find out more about how much you will get paid.

This article was updated July 2017.





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