Pregnant woman with hand on belly working on laptop

New leave rules coming into effect today

A law change means new rules for parental leave apply from June 2017. Changes include when a new parent can take parental leave payments, and what happens if a baby is born prematurely.

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.

Parental leave scenarios



Any eligible working parent can get parental leave payments if they are the permanent primary carer of a child under six.

This applies to employees, including those with non-standard working arrangements such as casual, seasonal, temporary and fixed-term employees, and self-employed people.

Parental leave eligibility tool


Premature babies

If a working parent is applying for, or receiving, parental leave payments and their baby arrives before the end of 36 weeks' pregnancy, they are entitled to:

  • preterm baby payments for up to 13 weeks
  • parental leave payments when they go back on parental leave - if it's no later than the original expected due date

If they go back to work for a period between the preterm baby being born and the original expected due date of the baby - other than for their keeping in touch hours - they will lose any remaining entitlement to preterm payments.

However they will still be entitled to up to 18 weeks' parental leave payments - or however many weeks are remaining - if they've stopped work before the original expected due date and if the baby hadn't been born prematurely.

For more information:

Keeping in touch days  Preterm parental leave


Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (NZ)

If you would like to contact our payroll and employment expert, Vicki Cozens, she is only a phone call or e-mail away – she'll be happy to assist.