New laws are increasing parental leave entitlements. Find out what impact it will have on your business.

When: 1 April 2016.

What: Parental leave payments are increasing from 16 to 18 weeks.

The new law extends parental leave payments to more workers, including:

  • casual and seasonal workers
  • those with more than one employer
  • those who have recently changed jobs.

Previously only biological or formal adoptive parents could claim parental leave payments. The law change extends this to others who take on the permanent care of children aged under six, eg home-for-life and whāngai arrangements.

Read more about the types of ‘primary carer’ now eligible on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website.


Eligible parents of premature babies will receive parental leave payments for longer.

Staff who’ve worked for an employer between six and 12 months will be entitled to six months’ parental leave. This includes the 18-week paid period plus eight weeks of unpaid leave.

The changes also make it easier for parents to stay connected to the workforce.

Current rules stop anyone on parental leave from returning to work for training or planning days. This will change to give workers on parental leave more flexibility.

Why: The aim is to let parents and primary carers take more time off work to spend time with the new additions to their families, while also staying in touch with work.

What you’ll need to do: If a member of your staff is about to become a parent or primary carer, make sure you both know what they’re entitled to. Even if this isn’t the case, staff may appreciate hearing the details from you.