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

New leave rules

When: 1 June 2017.

What: 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.


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.

Premature babies

When: 1 June 2017.

What: If a working parent is applying for or getting parental leave payments and their baby arrives before the end of 36 weeks’ pregnancy, they can get:

  • 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.

But they’ll 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 on parental leave, go to the Employment New Zealand website.

Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment