There are approximately 173 babies born each day in New Zealand. That's over 63,000 NZ mums, and 63,000 NZ dads welcoming a wee tot into their family each year. With new promises being made around paid parental leave, we thought it important to remind parents-to-be of their entitlements under the current and future laws, and to inform employers of their obligations.
Paid Parental Leave
Once you have used up your 14 weeks of paid leave you are able to take an additional 38 weeks unpaid leave, meaning you can take a total of one year off work.
What happens to my job?
An employer may not terminate you because of reasons related to pregnancy. After you apply for leave your employer must notify you are entitled to take parental leave, if you are not, they must state why. Your employer must tell you if your position can or can not be kept open while you are on leave. If your position can't be kept open then you have the right to dispute the statement. If your position is not kept open then, in the 26 weeks following the end of parental leave, the employer is required to give you preference over other applicants for any role that is substantially similar to yours.
What do I have to do?
You have to notify your employer at least three months before the expected date of delivery. You must tell your employer how much paid parental leave you are taking and the amount of extended leave required, including the dates that this will start and finish. If you are transferring some or all of your leave to your spouse or partner then your employer must be notified. This should be accompanied with a note from your doctor or midwife stating the expected due date.
Obligations as an Employer
The good news is you don't have to pay your employee while they are away from work, that gets taken care of by our friends in the government. Most of the work falls on the pregnant person to come to you. You will have to fill out the appropriate IRD forms and send those away.
If your employee is taking less than four weeks leave then you must keep their position open. If they are taking more than four weeks leave then you must keep their position open unless it is a "key" position, which cannot sufficiently be taken over part-time and must be critical to the business. This has a reasonably high threshold and it is rare that a position will not be able to be held open.
These are the statutory obligations and it is possible that there may be additional provisions in individual employment agreements which you will have to adhere to.
It can be a tricky area, for help navigating as an employee or an employer contact BuckettLaw, the employment law experts.