Paternity leave in New Zealand

by The Findlaw Team

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 provides for partner’s/parental leave when a baby is born or adopted.


Partner’s/paternity leave is a continuous period of up to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave available to the spouse of a woman who has had a baby, and can be taken at or about the time of birth or adoption.

Eligibility and entitlement

Employees who have been working for their employer for between 6 and 12 months (averaging at least 10 hours per week) by the time of their baby’s expected delivery or adoption date are entitled to 1 week of partner’s/paternity leave.


Employees who have been working for their employer for 12 months or more (averaging at least 10 hours per week) by the time of their baby’s expected delivery or adoption date are entitled to 2 weeks of partner’s/paternity leave.

When can the leave be taken?

The leave may be taken within the 6-week span beginning 21 days before and ending 21 days after the expected date of confinement, or the discharge from hospital of the child or, in terms of adoption, 21 days after the assumption of care of the child.

What does “spouse” mean?

A “spouse” is defined as a partner to a legal marriage or de facto relationship, as defined under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976.

A de facto relationship is a relationship between two people (whether a man and a woman, or a man and a man, or a woman and a woman) who:

  • Are both aged 18 years or older;
  • Live together as a couple; and
  • Are not married to one another.

In determining whether two people live together as a couple, all the circumstances of the relationship should be taken into account, including:

  • The duration of the relationship;
  • The nature and extent of a common residence;
  • Whether or not a sexual relationship exists;
  • The degree of financial dependence or interdependence, and any arrangements for financial support, between the parties;
  • The ownership, use, and acquisition of property;
  • The degree of mutual commitment to a shared life;
  • The care and support of children;
  • The performance of household duties; and
  • The reputation and public aspects of the relationship.

 

Can a spouse take more than 2 weeks’ leave?

If eligible, a spouse can take “extended leave”. To be eligible, the spouse must have been working for their employer for at least 12 months prior to expected date of delivery (or adoption) of the child. A maximum of 52 weeks’ extended leave may be taken.

Options for a female and her spouse sharing leave

The options for a female and her spouse sharing leave under the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 are as follows:

  • The mother of the baby takes 14 weeks’ maternity leave and 38 weeks’ extended leave (adding to a total of 52 weeks’ leave);
  • The spouse takes 52 weeks’ extended leave, or 2 weeks’ partner’s/paternity leave and 50 weeks’ extended leave;
  • Both parents take 26 weeks’ leave at the same time, to a maximum combined total of 52 weeks; or
  • Both parents share 52 weeks’ leave in two continuous periods.
     

Giving notice

The 3 months’ notice provision of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 applies to partner’s/paternity leave and to extended leave.



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